The Louisville Cardinals turned their first ACC conference game into a 31-13 victory over the Miami Hurricanes on Monday. It was a different coach on the sidelines, but the results were very similar from the last time both of these teams last played in December.
With Bobby Petrino returning to a place where he compiled a (41-9) record, many were eager to see how his second stint with the Cardinals would fare. So far, the Louisville Cardinals look very defensive. They held Miami to 244 yards and 12 first downs, while forcing three turnovers.
With two quarterbacks making their first ever collegiate start, chances were that each offense would struggle a bit. As expected, neither quarterback was overwhelmingly effective, and at times they were making mistakes under the defensive pressure.
With the score tied at seven, Will Gardner and Brad Kaaya turned the ball over on successive plays in the second quarter. It was the first of two Gardner fumbles deep in Louisville’s own territory. On the ensuing play, Kaaya threw a hitch that turned into a dropped lateral pass. The Cardinals picked up the fumble even though the ball was whistled dead. It should have been a “scoop and score” for the defense. Instead, it was Louisville’s ball where they recovered the fumble.
There was also more controversy on the play due to Louisville having too many men on the field. The whole play was frantic, and Louisville escaped without calling a needed timeout.
The turning point came when Dominique Brown capped off a six play 51 yard touchdown drive with a 15 yard run to give Louisville a 21-13 lead late in the third quarter. Brown was the workhorse in the Louisville backfield all night. Without Michael Dyer in the lineup, Brown carried the ball 33 times for 143 yards and one touchdown.
The Louisville Cardinals led 14-10 at halftime thanks to Corvin Lamb’s 97 yard Kickoff return for a touchdown. Moments after Miami took its first lead of the game, Lamb sprinted through the heart of the Miami special teams unit, and raced into the end zone.
In the first four possessions of the third quarter, Miami ran a total of 14 plays for 10 yards. After converting their first third down of the game, Miami ended the miserable quarter with a Brad Kaaya interception on the next play, and it gave Louisville a chance to knock the Hurricanes out of the game completely.
However, the Miami defense held tough in the red zone and forced a chip shot field goal early in the fourth quarter. The score gave Louisville a 24-13 lead, but Miami was in the game.
Miami had one last chance to stay in the game when Brad Kaaya hit Duke Johnson on a tremendous wheel route, but it was called back due to an illegal receiver down field. Instead of having the ball first and goal at the three, Miami was back towards the midfield. A few moments later, Miami missed out on a fourth down conversion, and turned the ball back over to Louisville.
Will Gardner completed 20/28 passes for one touchdown and zero interceptions. Brad Kaaya finished 17/29 for 174 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Miami gets back to action against Florida A&M on Saturday night, while Louisville faces Murray State. Both games start at 7:00 p.m. That should be plenty of time to rest of for their next opponent.