Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Instant analysis: NC State 31, Louisville 24
By Heather Dinich
There was no shortage of momentum swings in the Belk Bowl for both NC State and Louisville, two teams that finished the season on hot streaks and scraped their way into the postseason. Special-teams snafus were a highlight (or lowlight, depending on your seat), and both teams combined for five turnovers. Here’s a look back at NC State’s 31-24 win over Louisville:
How the game was won: NC State scored 14 points off turnovers, and came up with the big defensive stops when needed, including two on fourth downs. Louisville gave up too many big plays and made too many mistakes in the first half and couldn’t overcome them in the second, despite a better defensive job on quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon set the tone in the first half with a strong passing game and three first-half touchdowns.
Turning point: On fourth-and-1 midway through the fourth quarter, Louisville tight end Chris White missed a block, freeing NC State linebacker Terrell Manning to push Vic Anderson back for a loss of a yard. The play negated an earlier turnover by NC State in which offensive lineman Rob Crisp grabbed a deflected ball, rumbled and fumbled, giving the Cardinals a great shot at making a comeback.
Player of the game: NC State cornerback David Amerson. He had two interceptions, including one he returned 65 yards for a touchdown. His second sealed the win and ended Louisville's chances at a comeback.
Player of the game II: NC State quarterback Glennon. He threw three touchdown passes and one interception in a hot first half and the impressive connection with receiver T.J. Graham was the difference early.
Unsung hero of the game: Terrell Manning. His fourth-down stop of Anderson in the fourth quarter prevented another big momentum swing by Louisville and stifled a potential scoring drive, and he also intercepted Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater on the Cardinals’ first drive of the game. The turnover led to NC State’s first points of the game, a 7-0 lead on a clock-eating 14-play drive. Manning also came up with a big hit on Bridgewater in the waning minute of the game that helped stop Louisville's final attempt at a comeback.
Second-guessing: Why kick the onside kick? With four minutes left in the game and two timeouts remaining, Louisville coach Charlie Strong elected for an onside kick. With 10 players ready to guard against it, there was no surprise element this time around. NC State recovered the ball on the 41-yard line. Let the defense make a stop and give the offense a chance to do its job.
Record performance: Amerson ended the game with his 13th interception of the season. He became the ACC's leader for interceptions in a season with two against Louisville. His interception return for a touchdown gave NC State a 31-10 lead.