8:00 PM ET, October 22, 2004
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, LOUISVILLE, KY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Even when he disagreed with his coach, Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors made the right play.
The senior left-hander completed his first 13 passes, threw for one touchdown and ran for another in Louisville's 41-9 victory over South Florida on Friday night.
He finished 21-of-26 for 242 yards to help the Cardinals (5-1, 3-0 Conference USA) bounce back from a 41-38 loss to No. 4 Miami last week.
"It was just one of those nights out there, throwing the ball and not worrying about anything else," said LeFors, who ranks second in the nation in pass efficiency.
Early in the game, LeFors read South Florida's defense and changed a few plays Coach Bobby Petrino called from the sideline. It worked every time, as the Cardinals (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) marched to a 14-0 lead before the Bulls got their initial first down.
"Stefan did an exceptional job," Petrino said. "He used his experience to get us out of what would've been some negative plays and into some positive plays. He's been really effective."
LeFors, completing 75.6 percent of his passes coming into the game, lost his perfect game when J.R. Russell missed on a diving try with 1:03 left in the first half. Art Carmody salvaged the drive with a 34-yard field goal that gave the Cardinals a 27-3 halftime lead.
LeFors sensed the Bulls' defense never got a feel for what the Cardinals were doing.
"Defenses don't know what's coming," LeFors said. "We can do so many things, throw so many things at them."
Russell finished with eight catches for 111 yards, his eighth career 100-yard receiving game. All of them have come with LeFors at quarterback.
"People have told him all his life he's too short and doesn't have a strong enough arm," Russell said. "But he's going to make plays, regardless."
Louisville, third in the nation in total offense, racked up 517 yards and reached 40 points for the eighth time in 19 games under Petrino, midway through his second year.
The sputtering Bulls (2-4, 1-3) finished with 203 yards and 13 first downs -- with most of the production coming too late to matter.
Louisville has held four opponents below 250 yards of offense.
"We ran to the ball really well and did a great job of gang-tackling," Petrino said.
The Bulls gained only 40 yards on 27 plays in the first half. Sophomore quarterback Pat Julmiste misfired on 12 of 13 passes before halftime, with many of his incompletions coming on drops by receivers.
"Our offense obviously didn't move the ball, Pat struggled, and didn't throw it well," said South Florida coach Jim Leavitt. "We've got to play a lot better on offense."
The Cardinals glided into South Florida territory on their first three possessions. Senior tight end Adam McCauley caught three passes on Louisville's first scoring march, including his first career TD reception with 5:21 left in the opening quarter.
The Bulls went three-and-out from inside their own 10 and Montrell Jones returned a short punt to the South Florida 26. Three plays later, Michael Bush ran into the corner of the end zone on a sweep for a 14-0 lead.
A pass interference call on Louisville cornerback Antoine Harris kept alive a South Florida drive that ended with Santiago Gramatica's 38-yard field goal.
LeFors was 9-for-9 when Petrino replaced him with backup Brian Brohm early in the second quarter. It was the fifth time in six games Petrino has made the move, as he continues grooming the freshman for the future.
Brohm went 3-for-7 on two possessions and Carmody finished the second with a 34-yard field goal with 4:55 left in the half.
Andre Hall brought the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone, but only reached the 10.
Travis Lipp bobbled a pass from Julmiste a minute later and Louisville linebacker Robert McCune intercepted it at the Bulls' 16. A clipping call backed up the Cardinals, but a 30-yard pass from LeFors to Broderick Clark set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Eric Shelton.
"I was very impressed with our players' ability to prepare, play with emotion and take care of business," Petrino said.
LeFors had a 13-yard touchdown run and Bush scored from 19 yards in the third quarter, giving the Cardinals their 24th rushing touchdown of the season, best in the nation.
Julmiste threw a 50-yard pass to Johnny Peyton early in the fourth quarter. Julmiste finished 3-for-20 for 67 yards.