The Louisville Cardinals football team is a far cry from the 0 – 4 team that started the season. The Cardinals win versus Virginia on Saturday made them bowl eligible once again. It was Louisville’s fourth consecutive victory and sixth out of its past seven.
Kyle Bolin started at quarterback, but it was the backups of Reggie Bonnafon and Lamar Jackson that got the offense going and the Brandon Radcliff’s solid running sealed the game for the Cardinals.
Jackson, coming off of the bench for the third straight game came up big with U of L trailing early in the second quarter. It was third and two deep in Cardinals’ territory when Jackson ran for 45 yards. That set up the other backup quarterback now turned a do-everything player, Bonnafon. Bonnafon took the handoff from Bolin, ran right, and then threw a beautiful 20 yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Smith to put
the Cardinals up 10 – 7.
Brandon Radcliff’s strong running and the improvement of the offensive line kept U of L in control of the game. Radcliff rushed for a season-high 146 yards and two touchdowns. It was Radcliff’s second straight game with 100 yards rushing.
Bobby Petrino was very pleased with the running game saying, “It is something we have worked extremely hard at. Our offense of line continues to get better and I like the way we are operating it. We are able to grind out some tough yards and then break some big plays. I think we feel confident in coming off the ball. I like our running backs. I like the way they finished—it was mainly Brandon—his runs and made good plays. Our receivers are really hustling down field. It is a group effort. All 11 guys doing their job.”
Petrino was asked about the importance of the running game, in particular due to the face the passing game was subpar on the day, “It makes life a lot easier. That is one thing about being able to run the ball. It makes everything better. It makes the play action game. We didn’t throw the ball real well today but we made some good plays. Throwing it, particularly in some of those drives in the first half. There is no question that running the ball makes life easier.”
The biggest play of the game came via James Quick in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 24, Quick hustled downfield to and hit the Cavaliers’ returner on a bang-bang play causing a fumble.
Louisville recovered and scored shortly after to go up 31 – 24.
Virginia head coach Mike London was not pleased with call, “Very critical, and the turning point in the ball game. When you hit a defenseless player like that, you have to allow a guy the opportunity to catch a punt, he’s considered a defenseless player. And it’s unfortunate. It really is. It really is unfortunate for an event like that to change the course of a game. That’s one of the reasons why they come up with punt catchers having the ability to catch a ball because they are a defenseless player, they’re looking up and they have a guy coming down at them.” Louisville will now head to Pittsburgh next Saturday. It will then be off to Lexington for the season-finale