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    Louisville Football Gets Another Signature Win, Beating Notre Dame 31-28
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    When the University of Louisville football Cardinals (8-3) made the trip to South Bend, Indiana, it was supposed to be a matchup with another ranked team. Notre Dame (7-4), however, began to struggle and lost its ranking which was as high as the top 10. The Cards leave the slop with a 31-28 victory.

    With the Irish losses, Cardinal fans had to be excited that their team had a chance. It would give the program a tremendous boost if they could take home a victory against the media’s favorite team.

    It’s intimidating enough playing in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus, but Louisville had the added pressure of a soggy day. With freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon as the permanent starter for the remainder of the season, you didn’t know what kind of performance you would get.

    There was also the pressure of the game being Notre Dame’s Senior Day so the older players would want a good showing in front of the classmates, their families and the world. The first ever meeting between the two schools on the football field had some pretty high stakes.

    Between 10 and 15 thousand fans dressed in red and rooted for Coach Bobby Petrino’s squad. At home, the faithful had to suffer through NBC’s skewed coverage. Either that or dust off their ancient AM radio and turn the sound down on the television. Paul Rogers voice would be more comforting.

    Louisville native and Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung was the ceremonial coin tosser and soon after, the kick went up. The start was inauspicious for the Cards. A face mask call on James Sample gave the Irish the ball at nearly midfield.

    From there the Golden Domers marched to the 9 and kicked the field goal from Kyle Brindza. Good start for the Irish but also a victory for the Cardinal defense to hold them to three.

    The Cards first possession began with Bonnafon taking a 3 yard sack. After getting the nerves out of their system, Louisville began a real march into Notre Dame territory thanks to the legs of Bonnafon and Michael Dyer as they got into defensive secondary. That enabled the Cardinal QB  to leg out a 12 yard TD run.

    In the ensuing drives, offensive line penalties had the Cards in a step forward/step back rhythm. Bonnafon and Dyer could make it up, but the attack could have had more snap without falling back 5 yards every couple of plays. Eventually Bonnafon found himself in the end zone again.

    Down 14-3, the Irish had to throw it deep and they connected into Louisville territory. By the end of the first quarter, Notre Dame was threatening. Best they could do, however, was another Brindza field goal.

    Louisville’s freshman signal caller showcased his skills on the ground. After taking a 5 yard sack, he ran up the middle (!) and gained the first down. Third down conversions came pretty easy early in the game. They enabled the Cards to posses the ball for long stretches and keep drives alive. Louisville’s first punt came with 11:11 of the second quarter.

    On the first play after the punt, Charles Gaines picked off Everett Golson and right away the Cards were near the end zone. So rather than a thee and out, it was a 3 and field goal. The pick marked Louisville’s 22nd overall interception this year.

    Louisville dominated all aspects of the first half except yards passing and that was only because the Fighting Irish were playing from behind so they had to put it in the air. On third down conversions and time of possession the Cards enjoyed the advantage at Notre Dame Stadium. Touchdown Jesus was not pleased that Louisville had a 17-6 lead.

    Opening the second half, the Cardinals came out cold that resulted in a three and out and gave the ball the the Irish at midfield.

    Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly made his adjustments, but didn’t replace his QB despite his mediocre first half performance. It was a good decision as Golson led his team to the end zone to give them their first touchdown on a run from Tarean Folston.

    Another false start, the fifth one on the Louisville o-line killed another drive. Each member of the Cardinal front five got that penalty. That really got ND going. After the punt, Greg Bryant ran a 61 yard return to the Cardinal three yard line. That led to another Irish TD. Could Coach Petrino settle down his troops now that his team is behind for the first time since it’s first possession?

    Brandon Radcliff took over as the main runner for the Cards and his bruising style made the Irish have to respect the run. Radcliff would finish with 136 yards on the ground. Obviously Petrino made his adjustments, too.

    That led to a sleeping Notre Dame secondary and DeVante Parker, who had been quiet most of the game, caught 21 yard touchdown over Devin Butler and put Louisville back in front. It gave the Cards the answer to the two quick TDs the Irish caught them with. And the catch gave Parker 30 scoring receptions for his career.

    On the first play of the fourth quarter Radcliff ran it in from 15 and extended the Cardinal lead. He earned it with physicality and bursts of speed. He clearly became the hot hand in the Louisville running game.

    Notre Dame returned the favor on a “luck of the Irish” type play where Golson just lofted it to the end zone and went in and out of the hands of 3 Cards and 3 Irish. Will Fuller eventually came down with the ball for the six. Golson then ran in the 2 point conversion that brought ND to within a field goal.

    On the ensuing drive, the Irish’s Nyles Morgan went helmet-to-helmet with Bonnafon and got himself thrown out of the game. The penalty kept the Cardinal drive alive and ended up getting Morgan disqualified for the first half of Notre Dame’s next game. John Wallace missed the field goal. It would be up to the Cardinal defense for the last five minutes.

    The Irish benefited from bad officiating to keep their last drive alive when it should have been three and out. They kept driving and then benefited from a pass interference call on Terrell Floyd. The players tasked with covering Parker kept doing it, but the officials missed every one. Perhaps Floyd thought they would be fair. Not likely.

    So with :57 seconds left, Brindza came out for the tying field goal from 32 yards.

    He missed wide right.

    Photo by: 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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