The Cards became bowl eligible Saturday with their sixth win of the season, a 34-20 win over Connecticut.
The Cards came out of the gates at full speed with a 100-yard kick return from Adrian Bushell. Bushell took the opening kick the distance to spot the Cards a 7-0 lead on the road. Bushell was out last week serving a one game suspension and came out this week with big energy and something to prove.
The defense backed up the fast start with a huge three-and-out on the first three defensive series’. They stuffed the run early and UConn wasn’t able to convert on third down. The Cards defensive front played big and fast early and really set the tone for the Cards.
Dominique Brown and Victor Anderson both got it going in the first quarter and picked up big plays on the ground for the Cards after UConn’s second three-and-out. Both backs had runs of more than 20-yards on the way to the Cards second touchdown of the game, a six-yard score on the ground by Brown.
Dexter Heyman made some big plays on defense including a third down sack at the start of the second quarter. Heyman was instrumental in the Cards ability to stuff the run and pressure UConn early.
Hakeem Smith had a big game on defense for the Cards a week ago against Pitt and was back at it again Saturday. Smith showed his nose for the ball and made a number of big open field tackles for the Cards.
The Cards defense showed some bend in the second quarter, as UConn moved the ball into the red-zone for the first time, but didn’t break. The Huskies settled for a field goal and cut the Louisville lead to 14-3.
With less than two minutes left in the first half Teddy Bridgewater and the Cards faced a third-and-long deep in their own territory. Bridgewater stepped up in the pocket and threw an interception that led to a UConn touchdown. The touchdown cut the Louisville lead to 14-10 at the half.
In the third quarter both teams struggled to move the ball on offense, but on a Cardinals punt attempt deep in Louisville territory the Cards picked up a first down on a roughing the kicker penalty. The Cards took the first down and ran with it. Andrell Smith made a great catch down the sideline from Bridgewater for 39 yards and Bridgewater took the ball on the ground and scored to cap a 95-yard scoring drive. The Cards QB has shown more of an effort to make plays with his feet over the past couple of weeks and his ability to run has been a huge boost for the offense.
Bridgewater added another rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to push the Cards lead to 28-10 inside the final 10 minutes.
The Huskies responded quickly with a touchdown of their own, but it was too little too late
With less than six minutes remaining in the game UConn faced a fourth-and-long that resulted in a Cards interception. Will Stein, who finished the last couple of series of the game at quarterback, mostly handed it off as the Cards ran down the clock.
The Huskies added a field goal late to cut the lead to eight and recovered the onside kick. With time running out however the Cardinals intercepted UConn’s pass attempt and returned it for a touchdown to push the final score to 34-20 and become bowl eligible.
The Cards play calling seemed to be well balanced this week. Against Pitt the Cards ran the ball on first down for most of the game and faced a number of third-and-longs. This week they did a better job of mixing the pass in on first down.
The Cards dominated the game from start to finish with the exception of the second quarter. The Cards proved that they can bounce back and that they can go out and win a ballgame without the help of a blocked kick or pick six.
Next week the Cards finish their regular season with an 11 a.m. start on Friday. The Cards will be in South Florida to face the Bulls. Follow StraitCards this week for updates on the football team and a preview of the match up with South Florida.