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    Louisville football falls to Virginia 23-21
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    With a huge burst of momentum on their side, the University of Louisville football Cardinals went on the road to visit the Virginia Cavaliers in another ACC matchup, their second of the young season. Nothing about the game was easy.

    Experts didn’t expect this game to go like the Murray State thrashing from last weekend, but those same experts expect this game to become a rivalry despite the fact that the teams have only played 3 times before Saturday. Now that the Cards have joined the ACC, proximity could play into it.

    Virginia often runs a three quarterback offense, which always makes it difficult for a coach to game plan for. Cardinal head man Bobby Petrino and his staff had to think of a defense that would work for three signal callers. That’s almost like planning for 3 different teams in only a week.

    Louisville marched down the field with very little resistance for an early score on a pass from Will Gardner to freshman Charles Standberry on a gutsy 4th and 1 call. On the ensuing possession for the Cavs, the Cards recovered a fumble and started another march in the other direction. They didn’t score which would be a harbinger of things to come.

    Kevin Parks settled the Wahoos down by running hard, not a surprise considering he led the ACC going into the weekend. But the Cards defense stiffened. And then the Cardinal offense gave it right back on a Gardner interception that put Virginia in the red zone for the first time which made it easy to tie the score at 7.

    Parks also did something stupid. On a Gerod Holliman interception play, he chop blocked Cardinal Lorenzo Mauldin who was slow to get up. For fans, it looked dirty as Mauldin could have been seriously injured.

    Meanwhile, after the opening drive Gardner looked like an average quarterback. He missed receivers, didn’t audible in obvious situations and had no zip on his passes. For Louisville to pull out the win, he would need to up his play to the level of the previous two home games. It didn’t help that field position was as poor as it’s been all season for the offense.

    A fumbled Cardinal exchange gave Virginia the ball again in the red zone. Luckily, Holliman picked the ball again at the one yard line, his second interception of the game. While a good play, it didn’t exactly help the field position battle. Several plays later, Gardner gave it back via interception where it looked like the real receiver was the Cavalier defense. And great field position for Virginia. Again. It led to a field goal.

    And that’s how they went into halftime at 10-7. The fight at the end of the half, though, could go a fairly long way to create the rivalry.

    The second half opened with the Cavaliers on the march in Louisville territory and across the goal line to go up 17-7. Though they were only down 10, with the way the offense played, they Cards knew they were in trouble. At some point, you had to wonder with the high power part of Louisville’s high powered offense would be turned on.

    Perhaps with quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. He played the last few seconds of the second quarter and started the third. The defense treated him rudely, as well. He opened the second half with a three and out. The power switch had to wait a little longer.

    With another three and out, UofL had to punt out of their own end zone with Ryan Johnson having a legendarily bad kicking day and gave the Cavaliers another start on the Louisville side of the 50 yard line. That led to another field goal to give Virginia a 20-7 lead.

    Will Gardner came back in the game to open the fourth quarter. Would he have his head back in the game? He made some throws and the Cavs got away with defensive dirty play, but the Cards got their first sustained drive in what seemed like forever. It led to a Louisville touchdown which brought them into striking distance at 20-14. All of a sudden, after lots of disappointment, it was back to being a ball game.

    Virginia only ran two quarterbacks because for most of the game that strategy worked. But when Louisville got momentum back on their side, the Cards came alive. James Quick had a huge punt run back in the fourth that was called back for a phantom illegal block in the back that even the Virginia announcers couldn’t find on replay. No matter, the Ville had the ball back.

    Gardner threw a strike to James Quick in the end zone so the Cards could take a 21-20 lead with 6:59 to play. Then a botched fair catch gave Virginia the ball back just outside the red zone. Uh oh.

    The defense only held the Wahoos a field goal, but it put Virginia back in the lead 23-21 with 3:43 left. Because L.J. Scott signaled for a fair catch on the ensuing kick off, Louisville started the game turning drive at their own 13 yard line. Followed by Will Gardner taking a sack at the four yard line. Then it was back to mid-game Gardner who short armed another open receiver. No game turn.

    Look for Louisville to fall out of the Top 25 this week. Voters have shown a distinct dislike for the Cardinals and now they have this years reason.

    Photo: Max Sharp/Louisville.com

    Tim Girton's picture

    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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