Half of the University of Louisville football Cardinals games have been played right after or during a rainstorm, so when it was wet at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Friday night, it can’t have been too much of a surprise as the University of Cincinnati Bearcats came to town to play for the Keg of Nails. For Louisville, it was a chance to separate themselves from the rest of the Big East. For Cincinnati, it was a chance to try to climb back into the ranks of the Top 25. The Cards came out on top in overtime 34-31.
The rivalry game felt like a prize fight with both teams punching and counterpunching. While neither quarterback played their strongest in the first half, they had moments of effectiveness. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater went deep to Andrell Smith to set up a Jeremy Wright touchdown. Also in the half, Bearcat QB Munchie Legaux scored on a wildcat play deep in the red zone.
A disputed call on a muffed punt had the Cardinal faithful in a foul mood as the official explained that a muffed punt that is then recovered in the end zone is, by rule, a touchback. The crowd screamed for a safety. So did Coach Charlie Strong and the Louisville bench. At some point the refs had enough and called an unsportsmanlike penalty on the UofL bench.
That 15 yards got the crowd going even more. Was that Strong trying to fire up his team the way basketball coaches take technical fouls? If that was the case, it worked, at least temporarily as the defense went flying to the ball.
In the third quarter, Cincinnati dominated the offensive side of the ball with UofL only scoring on a field goal. But that didn’t last. Momentum swung back and forth and the crowd tried to will the Cards to victory by chanting “Teddy.” The score remained tied with less than 3 minutes left with Cincinnati missed a field goal and 2 plays later Bridgewater hit DeVante Parker with a 64 yard touchdown pass to take the lead 31-24. But that left 1:56 for the Bearcats to drive. They scored in 3 plays to tie it at 31 all.
But that left 1:03 seconds for Bridgewater to march down the field. A holding call stalled the drive, preventing the Cards from pulling it out in regulation and sent the game into overtime.
Terell Floyd intercepted Legaux in the overtime to keep Cincinnati out of the end zone, his first interception as a Cardinal. Then it was Louisville’s turn in the extra period. The Cards kept it on the ground to set up John Wallace for a 30 yard field goal for the win.
Remember when Munchie Legaux said he was better than Teddy Bridgewater? Not this night. Legaux finished the game 157 yards, a touchdown and 3 interceptions. Bridgewater on the other hand passed for 416 yards, two TDs and an interception. The Cards at now 8-0 on the season and come back to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium next Saturday to host the Temple Owls at noon.
Photos: Louisville.com/Tim Girton and Max Sharp
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