RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Nyheim Hines ran for two touchdowns and Ryan Finley threw for another to help No. 24 North Carolina State beat No. 17 Louisville 39-25 on Thursday night.
Hines ran for 102 yards and had a 48-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter that helped set up a touchdown drive for the Wolfpack (5-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Finley threw for 367 yards and a 48-yard score to Kelvin Harmon, part of N.C. State’s 520 total yards on a night it never trailed against the Cardinals (4-2, 1-2).
Then there was the Wolfpack’s defensive front, which kept the pressure on reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Jackson ran for his second touchdown to pull the Cardinals to 32-25 with 4:10 left, then got the ball back with a chance to tie it. But linebacker Germaine Pratt picked up a deflected pass and returned it 25 yards for a clinching score with 2:52 left.
Louisville: The Cardinals didn’t do much to slow the Wolfpack to offset some of Jackson’s usual brilliance, and that might have all but ended Louisville’s title hopes in the league’s Atlantic Division. They had already lost at home to reigning national champion Clemson and now find themselves two games back in the standings.
N.C. State: That’s the first 3-0 start in the ACC play for the Wolfpack since 2002. And with wins over Florida State and Louisville, the preseason dark horse in the Atlantic Division has beaten two of the teams picked to finish higher in the standings to position itself as the division’s likely top challenger to Clemson.
Louisville: The Cardinals host Boston College on Oct. 14.
N.C. State: N.C. State visits Pittsburgh on Oct. 14 in cross-division league matchup.