The Louisville Cardinals beat the Houston Cougars 20-13 to improve to 9-1 on the season and 5-1 in the American Conference. The Cougars fell to 7-3 on the season and 4-2 in the American Conference.
Houston started the game with a 61-yard kickoff return by Demarcus Ayers to the Louisville 39. The Cougars’ freshman quarterback, John O’Korn, could only manage to lead Houston to the Louisville 28, where they decided to go for it on fourth and ten. The Cardinals’ defense stopped the Cougars as they would most of the night.
The Cardinals took advantage of the turnover on downs by Houston. A good combination of passing by Teddy Bridgewater and rushing by Dominique Brown led to a 12 play, 77 yard drive that lasted for six and a half minutes in the first quarter. Dominique Brown capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown rush. After the extra point, Louisville led 7-0 with 6:45 left in the first.
Louisville seemed to be in complete control of the game after another drive at the end of the first quarter that bled into the second quarter. John Wallace would hit a 37-yard field goal to begin the second, and the Cardinals led 10-0.
After a few early game stumbles, Houston would fight back for most of the second quarter. The Cougars answered the Cardinal field goal with one of their own, a 46-yarder by Kyle Bullard. Houston’s freshman quarterback began to march his team down the field, and with 6:35 left in the second, a Kenneth Farrow four yard rushing TD and ensuing extra point tied the game at 10-10. O’Korn lost his best receiver, Deontay Greenberry, to a hard hit in the first quarter, but he was able to keep his team in the game with a few decent drives in the second quarter.
A potentially devastating play for Louisville came with about five minutes to go in the first half when Michaelee Harris fumbled a punt return and Houston recovered it. The Cardinals limited the damage to another Kyle Bullard field goal, this time a 22-yarder. The second half would end with Houston up 13-10.
RB Dominique Brown was the catalyst for much of Louisville’s drive to begin the third quarter. A 39-yard pass to Devante Parker brought Louisville to the Houston 3, and Brown would rush it in with 11:09 to go. After a three and out for Houston, Louisville would eat up 6:58 of clock time, and score on a 39-yard field goal by John Wallace. The score was now 20-13 with the momentum decidedly on Louisville’s side.
Houston had a few chances in the fourth quarter, but could not get into Louisville territory. In Houston’s final drive, O’Korn was sacked twice. This placed O’Korn in the near impossible position of 3rd and 38, and Houston turned it over on downs. Louisville was able to run down the final 1:31 to win 20-13.
The MVP of the game was Cardinal RB Dominique Brown. Brown had 27 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Cardinal QB Teddy Bridgewater had 203 yards of passing, but no touchdowns. The no TD game for Bridgewater broke a streak of 21 straight games with a TD pass. Cougar QB O’Korn finished with 121 yards of passing, and will look to improve in late game situations. The return of WR Deontay Greenberry will be necessary for Houston to resume its winning ways in the final two weeks of the season.
Number 20 Louisville improved to 5-1 in the American Conference on Saturday tying the Cincinnati Bearcats for second place. Both teams trail the 5-0 University of Central Florida Knights, who control their own destiny in winning the conference and the automatic BCS Bowl birth. Louisville takes on Memphis next week and finishes its season against Cincinnati. A bowl game is within reach for Louisville, but it will surely come down to the wire for the talented Cardinal team.