11:00 AM ET, November 25, 2011
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
TAMPA, Fla. -- Louisville got three touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to defeat South Florida 34-24 Friday and clinch a share of the Big East championship.
Louisville (7-5, 5-2), which rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the first half, took the lead for good on Bridgewater's 10-yard pass to DeVante Parker with 9:38 remaining.
The Cardinals added to their lead on Dominique Brown's 9-yard touchdown run with 4:12 remaining.
Bridgewater finished 19 of 28 for 241 yards.
Louisville, which began the season 2-4 before winning five of its last six regular-season games, can capture the Big East's berth in a Bowl Championship Series game if Cincinnati loses once more and Friday night's winner between Pittsburgh and West Virginia loses next week.
South Florida (5-6, 1-5), which needs a victory in Thursday's regular-season finale against West Virginia to qualify for its seventh consecutive bowl appearance, played the entire game with sophomore quarterback Bobby Eveld, a former walk-on, because of a shoulder injury to starter B.J. Daniels. Eveld was 20 of 35 for 210 yards.
Louisville, which snapped a 16-game losing streak in regular-season games played in the state of Florida that dated to 1972, took a 20-17 lead with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter on Bridgewater's 18-yard pass to tight end Josh Chichester on third-and-11.
South Florida struck back quickly when Lindsey Lamar returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards. On the first play from scrimmage, Eveld pitched to Demetris Murray, who stopped and flicked a left-handed 37-yard halfback-option pass to Deonte Welch, giving the Bulls a 24-20 advantage.
South Florida, largely capitalizing on Louisville mistakes, took a 17-10 lead into halftime.
The Bulls went ahead 7-3 on Eveld's 35-yard pass to Lamar on fourth-and-3. Initially, South Florida seemed prepared for a punt, then shifted its offensive players onto the field. Eveld found a wide-open Lamar, who drifted behind safety Hakeem Smith down the left sideline.
South Florida stalled on its next drive, but on fourth-and-17 from the Bulls' 37-yard line, Louisville's Mike Evans roughed punter Justin Brockhaus Kann, providing new life. Maikon Bonani completed the nine-play, 34-yard drive with a 40-yard field goal.
Louisville, looking for the equalizer, got a 19-yard pass from Bridgewater to running back Jarel McGriff-Culver to the South Florida 41, but strong safety Jon Lejiste rammed the ball loose after a jarring hit and recovered the fumble.
South Florida then mounted a 13-play, 59-yard drive, culminating in Murray's 1-yard run on third-and-goal to provide a 17-3 advantage with 35 seconds remaining in the half. On fourth-and-1 from the Louisville 35, wide receiver Victor Marc took a snap at quarterback and rushed for 4 yards.
Trying to prevent a last-second score, South Florida squibbed the kickoff, but Senorise Perry still rumbled for a 49-yard return before being pushed out of bounds at the Bulls' 25-yard line. Two plays later, Bridgewater found Parker for an 18-yard score in the back of the end zone, cutting South Florida's advantage to 17-10.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-18||4-15|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||3-4|
|FG||00:42||Chris Philpott 30 Yd||3||0|
|TD||13:30||Lindsey Lamar 35 Yd Pass From Bobby Eveld (Maikon Bonani Kick)||3||7|
|FG||07:15||Maikon Bonani 40 Yd||3||10|
|TD||00:35||Demetris Murray 1 Yd Run (Maikon Bonani Kick)||3||17|
|TD||00:13||DeVante Parker 17 Yd Pass From Teddy Bridgewater (Chris Philpott Kick)||10||17|
|FG||08:49||Chris Philpott 31 Yd||13||17|
|TD||02:40||Josh Chichester 18 Yd Pass From Teddy Bridgewater (Chris Philpott Kick)||20||17|
|TD||02:21||Deonte Welch 37 Yd Pass From Demetris Murray (Maikon Bonani Kick)||20||24|
|TD||09:38||DeVante Parker 11 Yd Pass From Teddy Bridgewater (Chris Philpott Kick)||27||24|
|TD||04:12||Dominique Brown 9 Yd Run (Chris Philpott Kick)||34||24|