College Football – Louisville Struggles, but Dominates Fourth Quarter in 44 – 12 Win

Louisville avoids embarrassment with huge 4th quarter - Photo by Bob Ausmus
Louisville avoids embarrassment with huge 4th quarter – Photo by Bob Ausmus

On night of total chaos in the College Football Playoff Rankings, No. 6 Louisville did their part.  However, it did not come easy.  For three quarters U of L looked like a team that wanted to join in on that chaos as visiting Wake Forest led 12 – 10.  Let’s go back to the beginning of the game to see how it got to this point before Louisville turned it on.

On the very first offensive play of the game for the Cardinals Lamar Jackson threw a short four yard pass to Jaylen Smith who fumbled the ball.  Wake Forest recovered the fumble and then kicked a field goal to go up 3 – 0.  It was a sign of things to come in the first half.

The second possession started with Jackson stepping back on throw a nice looking deep ball up the middle to Jamari Staples.  Staples had a step on the defender and the ball went right in his hands and then to the ground.  If the ball is caught Staple goes in for the score and maybe the first three quarters would have been different.  Louisville punted and Wake Forest kicked another field goal to push the lead to 6 – 0.

The momentum shifted as DeAngelo Brown forced a Wake Forest fumble at the Louisville 32.  U of L’s offense finally started moving the ball, but on 1st and 10 at the Wake Forest 20 Brandon Radcliff fumbled the ball and the Demon Deacons recovered.

A twelve play, 63 yard drive resulted in another Wake Forest field goal to give the Demon Deacons the lead at 9 – 0.

On Louisville’s next drive Jackson took the second play and did his usual electric running for 25 yards into Wake Forest territory, but the uncharacteristically fumbled the ball leading to a Wake Forest field goal.

The Cards finally scored to close out the first half, but the stats were certainly not what Bobby Petrino envisioned.  The Cards had the ball for a total of 8:41.  They gained a total of 128 yards.  Most disconcerting, outside of the turnovers, was Jackson’s inability to throw the ball.  He finished the half a paltry 4 – 9 for only 46 yards.

The third quarter started out slow for the Cardinals then Brandon Radcliff broke loose for a beautiful 55 yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 12 – 10.

The Louisville defense did everything they could to keep the Cardinals in the game.  They certainly held their end of the bargain just waiting for the offense to get going and did it ever get going in the fourth quarter.  The Cards would go on to score 34 points in the fourth quarter led by the running of both Radcliff and Jackson.

Radcliff would finish with 141 yards rushing and three touchdowns showing that the offseason weight loss has helped him immensely.  Jackson struggled passing the ball, finishing 14 – 26 with one touchdown, but as usual showed off his ability to run the ball, finishing with 188 yards on 22 carries.

Petrino’s teams have always been known for their explosive offenses, but tonight it was their defense that put them in position to win led by the strong play of Devonte Fields.  He finished with nine total tackles and three sacks.

The defense held the Demon Deacons to only 214 yards of total offense even though they were on the field for an astounding 38 minutes.  Petrino was asked if he was worried about Wake Forest having the ball for 38 minutes and replied with a bit of humor, “I wasn’t worried about getting worn out because I think we’re in very, very good condition.  In the first half, we didn’t have the ball because we kept turning it over.  In the second half, we didn’t have the ball because we kept scoring quickly.  So, I’ll take that.”

Petrino was asked if he knew about the teams losing ahead of them, “No, I found out after the game.  That Clemson got beat, and that Washington was behind.  That’s the only two things that I was told after the game.”  Little did he know that Washington would actually lose and so would Michigan.  All together five of the top ten teams lost.

The Cards could be ranked anywhere from three to seven when the rankings come out on Tuesday.  They just simple have to do their job and win out starting with trip to Houston on Thursday night.

Extra Points

  • Louisville improved to 4 – 0 all-time versus Wake Forest
  • Louisville owns the state of North Carolina this season beating Charlotte, Duke, NC State and Wake Forest
  • The 34 points in the fourth were the most for U of L in a quarter since 1913
  • Lamar Jackson broke Teddy Bridgewater’s record for total yards in a season finishing with 4,232
  • Jackson tied the U of L record with his 7th 100 yard rushing game of the season
  • Brandon Radcliff has 26 rushing touchdowns for his career