Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Chip Alexander

Ben Finley's second-half spark not enough as NC State falls to Louisville, 25-10

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — N.C. State and Louisville played for 60 minutes Saturday on a windy, brutally cold day at Cardinal Stadium.

But the game, more or less, might have been decided in 15 seconds.

That’s how long it took Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan to scoop up the ball on a kickoff, veer back across the field and motor 98 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

The play, so sudden, spurred the Cardinals to a 25-10 victory on a day when neither team mustered a lot of offense, the gusting wind was a factor, field position was critical and there were some jarring hits by both defenses.

Jordan’s TD return came after a Christopher Dunn field goal for the Pack had tied the score 3-3. It was the first against the Wolfpack since Lideatrick Griffin’s 100-yard return for Mississippi State early in the 2021 season.

The Wolfpack (7-4, 3-4 ACC) came into the ACC game short-handed. Missing was freshman quarterback MJ Morris and center Grant Gibson. Also on the injured-and-out list were linebacker Payton Wilson, tight end Trent Pennix and running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye.

But the Wolfpack got a needed boost from a player who had not been on the field all season: Ben Finley.

The third-year quarterback, fourth on the depth chart until Devin Leary’s injury in October, did not start the game. With Morris out with a lower-body injury, Jack Chambers took over as the starter, but it would be Finley who would give the offense some life in the second half with his passing.

Finley’s 34-yard scoring pass to running back Michael Allen, on a wheel route down the left sideline in the third quarter, pulled the Wolfpack within 13-10. It was the second TD pass of Finley’s career and first since the UNC game in the 2020 season.

Finley would finish 16-of-35 passing for 201 yards and a TD. The younger brother of former Pack quarterback Ryan Finley, he had 171 career passing yards before Saturday’s game.

The Pack took its chances in the second half. Trailing 16-10 in the fourth quarter, the Wolfpack gambled on fourth-down plays three times and lost on all three.

On fourth-and-1 at the NCSU 45, Allen was stopped for no gain. The Cardinals defense danced off the field and those left in the shivering crowd thundered their approval.

It took the Cardinals (7-4, 4-4) three plays to make it 22-10. Quarterback Brock Domann, making his second career start at quarterback, hit Tyler Hudson for 36 yards and Jordan scored on his second try for a 2-yard TD. A two-point try failed but Louisville had a 12-point lead and the game in hand.

The Pack then tried again on a fourth-and-10 at the NCSU 39 on its next possession, and again turned the ball over when Julian Gray’s apparent reception — long enough for a first down — was overturned after a review. A Louisville field goal made it 25-10.

Finally, with 4:29 left in the game, Finley’s short pass on fell incomplete on a fourth-and-10 play.

The Wolfpack came into the game looking to atone for a humbling loss to Boston College last week. It was N.C. State’s Senior Day at Carter-Finley Stadium and the 21-20 loss stung deeply.

The Cardinals, celebrating their Senior Day, were without senior quarterback Malik Cunningham, injured last week against Clemson. Domann made his second career start and while not the running threat that Cunningham presents, completed 12 of 24 passes for 153 yards.

Jordan rushed for 105 yards on 16 carries for the Cardinals against a Wolfpack defense that has allowed 92.3 yards a game.

The Wolfpack will close out the regular season Friday at North Carolina and again should be an underdog. With Morris’ status uncertain for the game, Finley could be the Pack’s choice at quarterback.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.