It was supposed to be a hard-fought, down to the wire contest when 12th-ranked Louisville hosted 17th-ranked Miami on Saturday afternoon at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and for the first 30 minutes it appeared that the game would in fact come down to the final few minutes of the game.
However, a pre-game stomping of the midfield Cardinal logo by the visiting Hurricanes, essentially assured that the game would turn out in the home team’s favor.
“That was very disrespectful to our program,” said junior receiver Harry Douglas following the Cardinals 31-7 victory over the visiting ACC program.
Despite the convincing margin of victory for the Cardinals, it was the Hurricanes that found the end zone first, capping a 9 play, 64 yard drive for a touchdown and the early 7-0 lead. The Hurricanes appeared to be in position to increase their lead by another touchdown after forcing a George Stripling fumble on the U of L 20 yard line, but three plays later, with Miami facing a first and goal from the 8-yard line, senior safety Brandon Sharp forced a Hurricane fumble which was recovered by linebacker Nate Harris.
Louisville capitalized on Miami’s miscue and marched 87 yards, with junior quarterback Brian Brohm completing 4 of 5 for 85 yards on the drive that ended with an Art Carmody connecting on a 22-yard field goal attempt to start the second quarter.
Brohm connected on 10 of his 14 pass attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown before being forced to the sideline during the team’s first drive of the third quarter after injuring a ligament in his throwing hand. He’ll have surgery Sunday morning to repair the damage and is expected to miss 3 to 6 weeks of action.
"It was on the throw to Mario,” Brohm said about the injury. “The guy had me around the waist and my thumb hit the turf. I stayed in one more play. I went to hand off the ball on a running play and the ball felt flat. I said I had to get out of here because I couldn't hold the ball. We have a lot of talent on our team. I think people underestimate how deep this team is."
Hunter Cantwell performed great in his absence, directing the Cardinal offense to two scores.
“I got a little bit nervous, but I tried to keep a smile on my face and have a good time,” said Cantwell. “The fans were great and I knew they were behind me. Brian (Brohm) was standing right there beside me when I was on the sidelines, encouraging me and helping me.”
Louisville’s offense, which entered the game as the nation’s leader, gained 389 yards against a Miami defense that entered the game ranked among the best in the country. However, it was the Cardinal defense that stepped up its play on Saturday, limiting the Hurricane rushing attack to just 64 yards and forced three fumbles.
“I was really proud of our defense,” said Petrino. “There is no question they did a great job. They had a really good plan, they stuck to it and I think that was a big thing and our coaches did a really good job of sticking to the plan. They kept bringing pressure never letting up. They did a good job of stopping the run with the pressure and hitting the quarterback.”
Brandon Sharp led the defense with a game-high 8.5 tackles, followed by William Gay who registered 7.5 tackles on the evening. The U of L defense saw nine different players record a tackle for a loss, including four sacks.
Up next for Louisville is a trip to Manhattan, Kansas to face Kansas State (3-0) of the Big 12 Conference.
“It gives us another chance to step forward next week against Kansas State,” Petrino said of the Cardinals first win over a ranked BCS program since the 2002 win over Florida State. “We can't get too excited about one game. This game was awesome for our fans and it was awesome to see all those fans at Card March. And to see all the fans after the game, it puts tears in our eyes.”
Harry Douglas, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, agreed.
“After tonight the Miami win is over and it’s time to focus on Kansas State.”
Louisville – Kansas State, which is scheduled for a noon kick off, will be televised on FOX Sports Net.