The Louisville defense played a strong first half and the offense did enough through the first two quarters to give the Cards a 16-7 lead at halftime.
The second half did not go the Cards way. They couldn’t score in the second half and again saw a game that was very winnable slip away.
The big play bit Lousiville again when Isaiah Pead took a 50-yard run to the house and gave Cincinnati the lead in the fourth quarter, prolonging the Keg of Nails stay in Cincinnati.
Penalties have cost the Cards this year and this game was no different. While the Cards limited the penalties overall, 6-for-44 yards, they picked up a handful on offense leading to Cincinnati’s game winning touchdown drive.
In the first half Teddy Bridgewater seemed to be in rhythm and was able to make some plays, again getting out of the pocket and finding receivers down field. In the first half Bridgewater found Eli Rogers for the Cards longest offensive play of the season so far, a 58-yard gain down the right sideline. The pass was a glimpse into the future of the Louisville offense as the two freshmen hooked up on a beautiful pass by Bridgewater.
Rogers finished the game with seven receptions for 106 yards, leading all receivers.
The Cards longest and biggest play of the game however came on defense. The only touchdown Louisville scored all day came with six seconds left in the first half. Mike Evans picked off Zach Callaros on third down and returned it for six giving the Cards their 16-7 halftime lead.
The Louisville D showed moments of brilliance, strong play from youngsters Marcus Smith and B.J. Dubose, but also gave up 178 yards on the ground. This season has been a challenge so far with ups and downs already. The Cards have lost games that they could have won, this loss to Cincinnati being another prime example.
Chris Philpott had been less than stellar through the first five games of the season, but the senior put together an excellent day Saturday with three field goals in three attempts with a long of 51 yards.
The Cards ran the ball well in the first half, but didn’t move the ball with any authority once they had the lead. Dominique Brown again saw the majority of the carries, touching it 17 times for 41 yards, most coming in the first half. Establishing the running game has been and will most likely continue to be a challenge for the Cards all year.
Tight ends Josh Chichester and Nate Nord were targeted early by Bridgewater, both making catches in the first half that kept drives alive and kept the offense on the field. In the second half however they were not involved in the offense and need to be if the Cards are going to have success in the Big East. Both are big targets and can help supplement the lack of a strong ground game.
The Cards did have the ball for seven more minutes than the Bearcats did, but an inability to finish drives ultimately led to the loss again. Cincinnati’s offense scored three touchdowns while Louisville’s offense settled for three field goals.
There is still growing to be done on both sides of the ball. As much as growth is important rivalry games are ultimately about winning and in this case bringing the Keg of Nails back to the ‘Ville. The Cards didn’t get it done today and that’s the bottom line.
Next Friday Rutgers comes to town in another Big East battle. While the rivalry does not hold national attention as it did five years ago it will still be another test for the young Cards. Follow the StraitCards this week for football updates and a preview of next Friday’s matchup.