Leary’s throws 3 TD passes in 4th quarter to lead Wolfpack past Louisville

NC State improved to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the ACC with a 28-13 home win.

NC State's Devin Leary throws the ball as teammate Timothy McKay blocks Louisville's Derek Dorsey during the Wolfpack's 28-13 win Saturday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Devin Leary threw three of his four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as NC State’s offense finally got untracked in a 28-13 win over Louisville on Saturday night.

Leary hit Trent Pennix on a 26-yard pass play on the second play of the fourth quarter to push the Wolfpack into the lead. Leary connected with Devin Carter with 5:53 remaining as N.C. State stretched its edge to 21-13. The clinching points came on 10-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Riley with 2:21 to go.

NC State (6-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which finished with 44 yards on the ground, had only 189 yards of total offense through three quarters.

So it was mainly defense that allowed the Wolfpack to bounce back from a one-point loss a week earlier at Miami. The outcome leaves NC State as the closest pursuer to undefeated Wake Forest in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Malik Cunningham was 11-for-28 passing for 219 yards with a touchdown and interception for Louisville (4-4, 2-3). He also gained 76 yards rushing on 18 carries.

Leary’s first touchdown came on a 19-yard pass to Emeka Emezie in the first quarter.

Cunningham struck with a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Watkins on the last play of the first quarter.

James Turner kicked field goals from 42 and 31 yards for the Cardinals, the latter closing the gap to 14-13 with 9:51 left.

Both teams squandered scoring chances on their first possessions. NC State was halted on a fourth-and-1 play from the Louisville 22. The Cardinals then reached the Wolfpack 1 before a penalty and Turner’s miss on a 24-yard field goal attempt.

The Wolfpack have gone four consecutive games without a turnover. NC State visits Florida State next Saturday.