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College Football Season
Belk Bowl

NC State N.C. State (8-5) 31
Louisville Louisville (7-6) 24

Bowl Index

Game Recap

by CFP Staff
December 28, 2011

North Carolina State beat Louisville 31-24 in the Belk Bowl as Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien improved to 8-2 in bowl games with Boston College (6-1) and the Wolfpack (2-1).

N.C. State defensive back David Amerson had two interceptions, one for a 64-yard touchdown return, giving him 13 for the season.

Louisville took the opening kickoff and drove to the N.C. State 24-yard line, but the scoring threat was halted by Terrell Manning's interception of Teddy Bridgewater. The Wolfpack then drove 69 yards in 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead on Mike Glennon's 6-yard pass to T. J. Graham.

Louisville missed another opportunity to put points on the board on its next possession as Chris Philpott was short on a 52-yard field goal after Bridgewater was sacked for a 6-yard loss on 3rd down. But the Cardinals forced a Wolfpack punt that was blocked and finally fallen on at the N.C. State 5-yard line to set up an eventual 8-yard scoring run by Bridgewater to knot the game at 7-apiece.

Louisville took a brief 10-7 lead on a 32-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. Then, Glennon and the N.C. State passing game took over. A 35-yard strike to Tobais Palmer put the Wolfpack back in front. A 59-yard kickoff return gave Louisville another great scoring opportunity, but the drive went nowhere and the Cards surrendered the ball on downs at the N.C. State 31 when a 4th-and-1 run was stuffed for a 2-yard loss. Two plays later, Glennon teamed up with T.J. Graham for a 67-yard score and a 21-10 halftime lead.

N.C. State stretched that lead to 31-10 with a 34-yard Niklas Sade field goal and Amerson's 64-yard interception return that evoked memories of Deion Sanders as he weaved in-and-out of the grasp of would-be tacklers.

While Louisville fought back, the final result never really seemed threatened as the Cardinals didn't get to within 7 points until less than 4 minutes remained. Louisville couldn't recover an onside kick and when they finally got the ball back, Amerson ended any straggling Cardinal hopes with the interception of a floating Bridgewater pass at the Wolfpack's 16-yard line.

North Carolina State improved its bowl record to 14-11-1 with its fifth win in its last six tries.

ACC teams are now 6-4 in ten Belk Bowls while Big East teams are 4-5 (Independents are 0-1).

Louisville was making its first appearance in the game, while N.C. State improved to 2-0 in the Charlotte, North Carolina bowl, having also defeated USF 14-0 in the 2005 edition.

Both teams needed dramatic season turnarounds to get here. The Wolfpack opened the season 2-3 in which both wins came against FCS schools. They went 5-2 down the stretch and became bowl qualified in the final regular season game by overcoming a 27-point deficit to Maryland in the second half with 42 unanswered points.

Louisville also finished the regular season 7-5 by going 5-1 in the back half of the season after opening 2-4. The Cardinals finished 5-2 in Big East play to capture a share of their conference title with Cincinnati and West Virginia.

61.5% of voters picked Louisville to win, but the Congrove Computer Rankings projected this game to be the 6th-closest of the 35-game bowl season with the Wolfpack getting a 1.36-point edge.


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