It was expected to be an offensive shutout of the season, blanking the North Carolina Tarheels 34-0 at Keenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
“Heck, I didn’t think about shutouts at all,” said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino. “As a coach, what you are trying to do is win by one, but I’m real proud of how hard our defense has worked and how much they’ve come together as a unit.”
Coming into a game that was expected to be their toughest challenge of the young season, a fast and aggressive Cardinal defense assumed control of the game early, limiting the UNC offense to 222 total yards, while forcing three turnovers. The Tarheels, who entered the game averaging over 260 yards rushing were held to just 77 yards on the ground and converted just three of eleven third down attempts.
“It was a good game for us,” said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino. “I was nervous coming into the game…I thought it would be a real battle, but our defense came out and did an excellent job.”
Offensively, Louisville used a balanced to control the game clock, domintating the time of possession by 13 minutes. Junior running back Eric Shelton had his biggest performance of the season by rushing for 86 yards on just 13 carries, scoring three touchdowns.
Louisville opened the game with a 77-yard, 14 play drive, capped off by a Shelton 1-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season. A 24-yard field by Art Carmody with 13:42 remaining in the second quarter, finished a 12 play, 86-yard drive, giving the visiting Cardinals a 10-0 lead, which they held at intermission.
Opening the second half with the ball, Carolina faced a determined defense that forced the Tarheels on a quick three and out. Montrell Jones returned the punt 12 yards to the UNC 37 yard line and Shelton, aided by a Kolby Smith block, scampered up the sideline 37 yards for the touchdown.
“The offensive line did a good job and Kolby Smith did a good job blocking the linebacker and there really wasn’t much to read, it was just there,” Shelton explained.
Forcing another three and out by the Tarheels, Louisville drove 70 yards, capped off by Shelton’s third touchdown, a 1-yard run and led Carolina 24-0 at the end of the third quarter.
“It feel real good,” Shelton said of his three touchdown performance. “Getting into the end zone was a goal of mine.”
The Louisville defense forced the Tarheel offense to the sideline once again when Carolina failed to convert a 4th and 8 possession on the U of L 43 yard line. Under the direction of freshman quarterback Brian Brohm, the Cardinals marched 57 yards for the school’s fourth touchdown of the game, a 4 yard run by Brohm.
With UNC with it’s deepest penetration of the day and it’s only appearance in the red zone, Louisville senior safety Kerry Rhodes stripped UNC reserve quarterback Matt Baker at the 9-yard line, which was recovered by Antoine Sharp.
The Cardinals finished the scoring on a 34-yard field goal by Carmody and 3:15 remaining in the qame.
Louisville which improves to 3-0 on the season will next host East Carolina on homecoming Saturday next weekend at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
NEWS & NOTES:
Montrell Jones had his finest performance as a Cardinal hauling in 3 receptions for 43 yards, including a key 4th down conversion early in the second half that led to Shelton’s third score.
Art Carmody was perfect on the day, converting both field goal attempts and 4 extra points.
The Cardinals are 3-0 for the second straight season, marking the first time since 1961-62 that Louisville started 3-0 in back to back seasons.
The win over Carolina was Louisville’s 7th straight win over a BCS Conference school.
Louisville has recorded two shutouts in the same season for the first time since blanking Maryland and NE Louisiana in 1995. UNC entered the game averaging 37.5 points a game.