- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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No. 18 Louisville remained undefeated and became bowl eligible, beating Pitt 45-35 and breaking its four-game losing streak to the Panthers.
But this one was not easy. Not many expected it to be, given the way Pitt has played Louisville in the recent past.
The teams went back and forth in the first half. Louisville (6-0, 1-0) hurt itself with several personal foul penalties, and also had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. The defense had trouble slowing down the run, and gave up several big plays in the pass game. But one critical decision late in the half seemed to swing momentum for Louisville.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst decided to go for it on fourth-and-short from the Louisville 42, and time ticking down before halftime. Pitt led 21-14 at the time. Rather than punt to pin the Cardinals, Chryst called for a Rushel Shell run. Shell didn't get it. Louisville took over, and Teddy Bridgewater was able to complete a critical fourth-and-7 to get Louisville into field goal range.
John Wallace ended up making the 45-yard field goal to cut the halftime deficit to 21-17. The Cardinals then scored three straight touchdowns in the third quarter, running off 24 unanswered points to take command of the game, 38-21. Pitt (2-4, 0-3) refused to quit, though, and closed the gap to 38-28 in the fourth quarter. Would the Cardinals be able to make a decisive play on defense to avoid another manic comeback this season?
Again, Chryst made a critical fourth-down call. Rather than attempt a 39-yard field goal, he decided to go for it on fourth-and-8 from the Louisville 22.
Senorise Perry ran for a 59-yard touchdown on the next drive to seal the victory for the Cardinals. Perry had an unbelievable afternoon, scoring a career-high four touchdowns while rushing for 101 yards on just 12 carries. It is his third 100-yard rushing game this season.
Bridgewater was 17-of-26 for 301 yards with a touchdown, and had some really beautiful throws to DeVante Parker and Eli Rogers. Parker had 153 yards receiving on four catches -- including a 75-yard score right off the bat to open the third quarter. Louisville played much better defensively in the second half and had five sacks against a mediocre Pitt offensive line, helping boost what had been low sack numbers.
Pitt got a good day out of Shell, who had 96 yards rushing before leaving the game with an injury. Sunseri played well for the most part, too, throwing for 287 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But he was unable to make some critical plays in the second half, and the Pitt defense let this team down as well.
14hSam Khan Jr.
16hDavid M. Hale