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    Louisville Claws Its Way to a Win Over Wake Forest 20-10
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    When the pundits were trying to figure out how many wins the University of Louisville football Cardinals (4-1) would have in the post Charlie Strong era, nearly all of them circled the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-3). They were right, but didn’t think it would be as hard fought a game as this one turned out to be. The Cards did bring it home with a 20-10 victory.

    The two teams have only met once before back in the 2007 Orange Bowl in Miami where Coach Bobby Petrino’s Cards won 24-17. The Demon Deacons were ACC champions at the time. That story line isn’t enough to call this a rivalry just yet, but now that both teams are in the Atlantic Coast Conference, there is drama. After all, Louisville wanted to improve their conference standing with a Florida State loss that became entirely possible. The Deacs were just beginning their ACC campaign.

    Louisville entered the game without starting quarterback Will Gardner due to the injury he suffered in the Florida International win. His backup, freshman Reggie Bonnafon had to carry the load. Bonnafon played a few series in all the Cardinal wins but was he ready for the big stage?

    On the opening drive, Bonnafon dazzled with his legs on two scrambles that resulted in a first down. Then he used his arm for another first down to Eli Rogers. Eventually Louisville’s porous offensive line let him down and a Dominique Brown fumble killed the drive. The fans like Bonnafon under center, so he would come back again and again with their complete support.

    The Cardinal defense held Wake Forest to a three and out on their first series and it was back in the hands of the offense. After some movement of the ball, two penalties, one a 10 yard personal foul, killed that second drive.

    There were all kinds of question marks about the Wake defense, but they were really zeroed in on the Louisville running attack while also taking advantage of the O lines problems. However, a targeting foul and subsequent ejection of the Deacs Kevin Johnson spelled trouble at the cornerback position.

    Right after, a Bonnafon fumble gave the ball back to Wake. The game started looking like the winner would be the team that made the least amount of mistakes. On that drive, Wake put the first points on the board with a 43 yard Mike Weaver field goal to lead 3-0. The first quarter wasn’t stellar for the Cards. 4 possessions ending two with fumbles and 2 with punts.

    The second quarter started better thanks to a Gerod Holliman interception. It was his 6 INT which is best in the nation. It led to a John Wallace 46 yard field goal attempt that missed wide left. Cardinal fans weren’t used to seeing that as Wallace is usually as close to automatic as they come.

    The injury bug came to bite the Cards again. Lorenzo Mauldin, the star linebacker and NFL prospect went down after a hard tackle. He returned later in the second quarter and got a loud ovation when his name was mentioned after a stop.

    Midway through the second quarter, momentum shifted to the Deacs where they put together another drive that seemed like it was going to the end zone. James Burgess stopped the threat with an interception in the end zone.

    Bonnafon paid back the gift with a 33 yard pass to Brandon Radcliff. And just like that, Big Mo changed allegiance and put in some time on the Cardinal side. You know how Mo is. It led to a Radcliff 29 yard touchdown run.

    Louisville threatened again with 60 seconds to go in the half but didn’t quite get it to the end zone so John Wallace came up to kick it wide left again. The halftime score was 7-3.

    Opening the second half, the Cards gave no quarter and continued their crushing defense. However, the offense, while moving the ball, couldn’t get the ball to the red zone, let alone the end zone.

    The Cardinals continue to lose the field position battle and it came back to haunt them in the third as Bonnafon fumbled at the 2 and Wake Forest’s Tylor Harris recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown to go up 10-7. Field position has been a problem for this year’s Cardinal squad all season.

    So remember that powerhouse offense that the Cards were supposed to be running? Not so much. The decimated defense? Not so much. The defense kept the Cards in the game. Penalties and misfires sent Big Mo back over the other sideline. To their credit, Louisville kept fighting. And that fight brought Mo over to stand on the home side of the field yet again.

    It showed when Brandon Radcliff smashed his way into the end zone on a 16 yard touchdown run to regain the lead. The redshirt sophomore led all rushers. That fact points up the youth in the game but also leads a look at the Cardinal future under the second version of Petrino.

    Radcliff in his first 100 yard game and even gained 15 yards while dragging all 11 Wake Forest players. It was a sight that brought the faithful to their feet. He finished the game with 129 yards and 2 touchdowns.

    Next up for Louisville is a trip to Syracuse on Friday, October 3. It’ll be the 7:00 ESPN game.

    Photos: Max Sharp/Louisville.com

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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