After a tough start, Louisville football used a second half run to surge past NC State and lock in a bowl bid for the ninth time in ten seasons.
Louisville football is going bowling. Seriously.
And after a strong finish against conference for NC State, things could get even better moving forward in 2019 and into bowl season.
Louisville entered its second straight game looking for bowl eligibility with hopes that it wouldn’t be like the last.
Coming off of a 25 point loss at Miami, the Cardinals were hoping to do more of what they done all season. Which is bounce back after a loss. Louisville is undefeated in that spot in 2019, they hoped to keep that streak going on a cold night in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A slightly rainy, freezing night contributed to a very low scoring first half. Both teams were unable to find even a field goal in the first quarter of play.
Louisville struck first, with a 43 yard touchdown from Cunningham to Fitzpatrick. We knew the Cardinals would have the advantage at the skill positions tonight, but man did they. Louisville took a 7-0 lead that didn’t last long.
The Wolfpack won the final ten minutes of the half, kicking a field goal and throwing for a touchdown. They went into halftime following a very dull 30 minutes up 10-7. The NC State defense seemingly had Louisville figured out, but that was far from the case.
Louisville began the second half with the ball and finally capitalized on the services of star wideout Tutu Atwell. A 74 yard touchdown put the Cards back on top, where they would stay for the rest of the night’s contest.
This was Tutu’s ninth touchdown in ten games. He also has at least one reception for 50 or more yards in five of ten games this season. Atwell posted another 100+ yard stat line, but more Cardinals were determined to get in on the action.
NC State’s next drive began with an immediate turnover, one of three that the Cardinals forced this evening. Louisville capitalized on the Wolfpack fumble right away, when Cunningham found Marshon Ford for a 42 yard touchdown, putting the Cards up by two scores.
The Louisville offense looked completely different in half number two versus half number one. But the Louisville defense played a big part in that being the case. NC State turned the ball over on the first play of the prior drive and right after taking an 11 point lead, UofL forced a three and out, giving the ball back to a smoking hot Cardinal offense.
With how the Wolfpack offense looked, a touchdown on this drive seemed like it would seal the contest. Louisville did just that, as a 15 yard Cardinal drive ended with a one yard touchdown to TE Ean Pfeifer, putting Louisville up 27-10.
Louisville bouncing back from being down 3 at half to being up 18 at the end of the third speaks to the resilience of this team and coaching staff. Every low moment that’s occurred this season, they’ve come right back with a great moment that makes you forget about it. That was the story of the night. But there was still fun to be had.
NC State scored to make it a ten point game, but Louisville still had to work to do. After a nine play Cardinal drive that appeared like it was ending in a field goal, Satterfield and company had something up their sleeve. For the first time since 2007, Louisville had a non-quarterback passing touchdown. Backup kicker Ryan Chalifoux was the man for the job, converting on a fake field goal to find again, Marshon Ford for a seven yard Louisville score.
This not only iced the game, but had Louisville fans smiling everywhere. At halftime hope was bleak, the offense couldn’t get anything going. Coaches don’t like to look forward, but fans do. Syracuse and Kentucky both had 24+ point victories today. So at halftime tonight, bowl eligibility was becoming something to really worry about. This moment eliminated all doubt, Scott Satterfield was getting this team to a bowl in his first season.
NC State would go on to kick one more field goal, giving us a final score of Louisville 34, NC State 20.
After the worst year of Louisville football in this millennium, the Cardinals are back to postseason football. Most thought this wouldn’t be possible, given how rough last year was and with how tough this schedule that Louisville had to endure truly was. When it’s all said and done, Louisville will likely have faced nine bowl eligible opponents out of eleven possible opportunities.
Cardinal fans everywhere should be celebrating tonight. What this coaching staff and this team has accomplished has been nothing short of incredible.
All I personally wanted from this season was for it to be better than the last. Now, all we can ask for is more. Louisville is back in action next weekend at 4:00 for senior night against Syracuse.