By RUSS BROWN, Kentucky today
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Louisville’s offense did its job in the first half, then passed the baton to defense and the result was a 31-23 win over Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahasse , in Florida. The Cardinals’ six-game losing streak on the road.
After taking a 31-7 halftime lead, the Cardinals (3-1, 1-0) – playing their first ACC game – turned a potential rash into a nail bite, allowing the Seminoles (0-4, 0-2) to get closer to the final score before an interception by Tre Clark on the UofL 5-yard line with 48 seconds left, ensured the victory.
âThis guy is a clutch,â U-L defensive lineman Yaya Diaby said of Clark. “We just had the conviction to finish the gameâ¦ this victory was huge.”
Louisville dominated the first 30 minutes, racking up 316 total yards, converting 9 of 12 third downs, holding the football for 20 minutes and limiting the FSU to 15 rushing yards. But the Cards could not extend this domination in the second half and the Seminoles made things interesting.
“Their defense made adjustments or we would have scored 60,” said U of L quarterback Malik Cunningham.
Cunningham could have scored 60 on his own. He scored all four UofL touchdowns in the first half, two passing and two running, for a total of 227 yards. He threw 59-yard touchdown passes to Tyler Harrell and 21-yard touchdowns to Jordan Watkins and also scored on four-and-one-yard carries as the Cards scored on their first five possessions.
But the Noles cut Louisville’s lead in the second half, reducing the deficit to 31-23 on Ryan Fitzgerald’s 45-yard field goal with 8:40 to go. FSU quarterback McKenzie Milton threw for 248 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Parchment. Jashaun Corbin had a 75-yard touchdown run and Treshaun Ward added a 20-yard touchdown run for Florida State. The Seminoles haven’t opened 0-4 in a season since 1974, two years before Bobby Bowden arrived.
“We never had a good pace in the second half,” said UofL coach Scott Satterfield. âWe just made enough plays in the first half. That’s the end resultâ¦ it’s a very fine line between looking really, really good and not looking good at all. We knew we were going to get the best shot in Florida State. It was a team effort. We didn’t play well in the second half, but we found a way to win. These are straight weeks of good wins. “
And now, after a rocky start that included a resounding loss to Ole Miss, currently ranked No.13 in both polls, UofL stands at 3-1 with a three-game winning streak heading into next Saturday’s showdown against Wake Forest ( 4-0, 2-0). With Clemson’s loss to NC State, the Cards are squarely in the race for the Atlantic Division title.
Louisville started the week as a 2.5 favorite, and that was the line up until Thursday. But by the time of the game, the odds had shifted and the state of Florida was favored by one. The Cards may have made more believers now.
INJURED LARGE RECEIVER SMITH – UofL lost wide receiver Braden Smith for a long time due to a leg injury. Smith, who had four receptions for 32 yards in the first half, fell after converting a third down and was tackled around his knees. He left the game, was helped off the pitch by putting very little weight on his leg before being brought back to the locker room. Smith did not return to the field but was seen on the sidelines in a boot.
Satterfield said after the game he didn’t know the extent of Smith’s injury, but said he thought it could be “pretty serious”.
âWe’ll come back and have an MRI and find out what it is,â Satterfield said. “I just saw him in a double. Disappointed to see him. He’s a great kid and a great competitor. We’ll know more next week.”
MONTGOMERY OFF SEASON
Louisville’s defense took a heavy blow when the school announced about three hours before kick-off that starting center linebacker Monty Montgomery would miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear in his right knee.
Montgomery was injured in Central Florida’s last touchdown on Friday night and was replaced by rookie Jaylin Alderman, who became the hero of the game when he returned a 66-yard pick-six for the winning touchdown on the 42-35 victory of the UofL.
Alderman, a true freshman from Valdosta, Ga., Took over Montgomery’s starting spot against FSU.
Montgomery’s end-of-season injury came as a surprise as after the game against UCF he said, “I’m fine. I’m ready to play against FSU.” And Satterfield told reporters on Monday that no one should miss the FSU game.
Montgomery (5-foot-11, 225 pounds), a college transfer from Hutchinson Community College, made 17 tackles and a quarterback rushed through three games. He played all 13 games in 2019 and finished with 27 tackles while leading the team in sacks with five and tied for first in forced fumbles with three.
Last season, Montgomery appeared in 10 games and started the last three. He finished with 46 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and 4.0 sacks, a team high. He is listed as a junior redshirt, so he could return to UofL in 2022.
Russ Brown, former sports reporter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers sports for the University of Louisville and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at [email protected]