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    Louisville overcomes mistakes to beat Syracuse 28-6
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    The University of Louisville football Cardinals (5-1) traveled to New York on Friday to take on the Syracuse Orange (2-3) inside the Carrier Dome. As the country cools off, the Cards got a chance to play in a shirtsleeve atmosphere with Reggie Bonnafon making is second start at quarterback. Louisville came away with the win 28-6, but it wasn’t pretty.

    In 2012 when the Cardinals visited, they were trounced 45-26 so revenge had to be on the minds of the players still on the team that took that embarrassment. However, perhaps that depends on how you define embarrassment. If you try to avoid public mistakes, this wasn’t your game because both teams caused a shower of yellow flags to fly.

    The Louisville defense goes into the weekend with the third ranked defense in the nation. Offensively it’s a different story, the precise opposite of what fans thought it would be going into the season. At the beginning of the game, the Cards wasted a 62 yard kickoff return by Brandon Radcliff with a three and out.

    The next possession didn’t fare much better at Bonnafon threw his first college interception to Julian Wingham on a throw that was meant to go to James Quick. All of a sudden the Orange had good field position in Cardinal territory. Syracuse had no trouble converting the gift for 3 after Terell Floyd broke up a sure touchdown pass in the end zone.

    Late in the first quarter, Louisville settled down and put together a real drive with a mix of pass and run, including does of Radcliff and L.J. Scott. And up to that point, Dominique Brown had yet to make an appearance.

    After doing the yeoman’s work, Radcliff walked into the end zone to quiet the Carrier Dome’s “orange out” crowd. And yes, it looked as goofy as it sounds especially when you consider all the yellow that hit the field.

    In the second quarter, the Cards were driving and got stalled on three straight offensive penalties and Louisville got sloppy on their execution.

    Then they pinned Syracuse to the one yard line on a punt. Actually, it was a second punt of the series because the first had to be rekicked due to yet another Louisville penalty. That first kick was downed on the one as well. As a result, Gerod Holliman tackled Syracuse’s Adonis Ameen-Moore in the end zone for a safety. It was the first of 2 safeties on the night, quite the rarity.

    Terrel Hunt, the Orange signal caller put a pass in the hands of Louisville safety James Sample and put the Cardinal offense back on the field to collect more yellow flags. Head coach Bobby Petrino continued to exercise his lung power on the offensive line. The conversation had to have gone like a cursier version of “guys, please don’t hold or false start.”

    As a result John Wallace came in to attempt a field goal out of his estimated range, this one from 51 yards. Wallace delivered on his now-personal best try.

    Both teams misfired inside two minutes with the Card and the Orange failing to convert on third down and being forced to punt. Then, with moments before halftime, Louisville enjoyed a bit of luck as Syracuse’s Hunt mismanaged the clock. Even though he’s a senior, he was lost. He tried to call a timeout when none were left. It cost his team valuable seconds as the clock ran out on a potential scoring drive from the 2 yard line. The Cardinals ran off the field with a 12-3 lead.

    Louisville opened the second half with a penalty. Of course. And they also gave up a big pass play inside the 5 yard line. Syracuse’s own miscues had them marching backward to a 3 and 19. Then Ben Lewis looked like he didn’t expect to be so wide open so he dropped a scoring pass in the end zone. The Cardinals held and the Orange came away with only 3 points.

    The Cardinal offense was sleepwalking through another offensive series until Matt Milton grabbed a pass and went for 45 yards. The grab was the longest reception of Milton’s Cardinals career and the longest completion of Bonnafon’s. 4 plays later, Radcliff skipped into the end zone for his second score of the game. It put the Cards up 19-6. Radcliff finished the night with 116 yards on 25 carries.

    As the game started looking up for Louisville, tight end Gerald Christian coughed up the ball and Syracuse ended up in decent field position. That’s 3 turnovers to go along with all the penalties. The very next play, Gerod Holliman picked off Hunt for his 7th interception of the season to lead the nation. Christian owes Holliman a non-alcoholic beverage for bailing out his mistake.

    In the 4th, Syracuse had to call on it’s backup Austin Wilson for a play when Hunt went down after a Keith Kelsey sack, a play on which Kelsey also was shaken up. The pass rush didn’t give either a break.

    When Louisville got the ball back Bonnafon, clearly in control at this point, directed the Cards on a methodical scoring drive ending with Christian catching the touchdown pass. So he fully made up for the earlier fumble. It also emptied the Carrier Dome as Louisville went up by 20.

    Wilson came back into the game after Hunt went down again but to no avail if you wore Orange.  As he left the game, he was called for intentional grounding as if Syracuse needed to catch up with the Louisville penalty tally.

    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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