LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In every loss, there are moments teams can point to that might've made for a different outcome.

For the University of Louisville football team in Saturday's game at North Carolina State, there was the entire third quarter.

The Cardinals gave up only one touchdown through three quarters and absolutely stuffed the Wolfpack run game. But defense can only accomplish so much.

Offensively, Louisville was able to move the ball, but outside of a 74-yard touchdown pass from Malik Cunningham to Jordan Watkins, was unable to find the end zone. It missed multiple attempts to grab control of the game after big defensive stops, then the defense eventually wore down in a 28-13 N.C. State victory in Raleigh, N.C.

N.C. State outscored Louisville 21-3 in the fourth quarter.

Our guys came out and played hard. But too many mistakes for us," Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. " You get a penalty and get that play called back, it's hard to get any momentum. I thought it was particularly tough in the first quarter -- we drive the ball down to the one-yard line and get a false start and now it's fourth and six. And you don't get the opportunity to try and score (a touchdown), and then you miss the field goal. That was a big swing, and in the fourth quarter we didn't get anything going, and put our defense in a little bit of a bind. I thought our defense played well all night, up until the last 3-4 minutes there. They were playing really good and keeping us in the game. But we've got to be able to make some of those throws down the field and some of those shot plays that you have to make when you're playing a team like this, because they're going to force you to make some of those, and you've got to make some of those contested catches. We've got to grow from this as a football team and come back next week."

The Cardinals rushed for more than 200 yards for a third straight game and outgained N.C. State 434-361, but came up with just three points in two trips into the Red Zone, and came up short on three fourth-down tries in its own territory.

The second of those came with more than 5 minutes left and gave N.C. State the ball at the Louisville 34 yard line in a one-score game. Devin Leary then hit C.J. Riley for a 10-yard TD pass minutes later to seal the game.

N.C. State scored touchdowns on its final three drives of the game.

Despite the long TD pass, Cunningham wasn't sharp. He completed just 11 of 28 passes for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He completed only 5 of 15 passes in the second half and 3 of 8 in the fourth quarter. Louisville outrushed N.C. State 215-44.

"When you're taking more shots in a game, your completion percentage is probably going to be lower if you're not hitting those," Satterfield said. "But we wanted to continue to be aggressive, we wanted to continue to try to take those, just hoping to hit one. But we just didn't hit enough."

Louisville was flagged for 9 penalties for 69 yards.

"Once they got ahead, they were dropping eight and tried to keep everything in front of them," Satterfield said. "You've just got to make some plays to where you're still in the game, and not let them get two scores out. . . . I thought we moved the ball, we just couldn't score. On probably two or three shots down the field we had a chance to score, we just couldn't connect."

One costly loss could be an injury to cornerback Kei'Trel Clark, who was helped off the field in the fourth quarter with what Satterfield called after the game a lower-leg injury. He'll be evaluated further back in Louisville.

For Louisville, it was a third loss in four games, and brings the Cardinals' record to 4-4. They return to action Saturday in Cardinal Stadium against Clemson.

"We just have to keep battling," Satterfield said. "Bottom line is we've got to make some plays. We're close. We're competitive and we're right there in the thick of things. Hit a couple of those plays and it's a different ballgame. We've got a bunch of young guys out there fighting. We're not going to throw the towel in. We're going to keep getting better and better, and we'll start making those plays and instead of being a tight ball game there at the end we're going to find a way to win them and be up two touchdowns at the end of the game and everybody's breathing a little easier. . . . But these are good football teams. We're close, we're right there with them, and we're going to get over the hump."

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.