7:30 PM ET, November 2, 2006
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, LOUISVILLE, KY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- With thousands of fans on the field, swarming all around Brian Brohm and chanting "BCS! BCS!" after perhaps the biggest win in school history, the Louisville quarterback smiled and took in the whole satisfying scene.
"It's been a dream since I was a kid for Louisville to be on a stage like this," Brohm said.
If Brohm and the fifth-ranked Cardinals keep playing the way they did Thursday night in a 44-34 victory over No. 3 West Virginia, the stakes will only get bigger.
In perhaps the biggest win in school history, Louisville (8-0, 3-0) snapped West Virginia's (7-1, 2-1) 14-game win streak and moved into a first-place tie with idle Rutgers in Big East Conference play. It was also the first time Louisville won against a top 3 team in school history.
|11/2/06||vs. No. 3 WVU||W, 44-34|
|10/14/04||at No. 3 Miami||L, 41-38|
|9/23/00||at No. 2 FSU||L, 32-0|
|9/20/97||vs. No. 1 PSU||L, 57-21|
|11/2/91||vs. No. 1 FSU||L, 40-15|
Welcome to the national championship hunt, Louisville.
Brohm threw for 354 yards and a touchdown, and the Cardinals took advantage of key mistakes by West Virginia to earn the signature win they've so desperately sought under coach Bobby Petrino and stake their claim as a serious contender for the Bowl Championship Series title game.
The win will likely lift Louisville (8-0, 3-0 Big East) to at least fourth in next week's BCS poll -- it was fifth this week -- and could be the springboard the Cardinals need to propel them into the national championship game if they manage to run the table.
"I think we deserve to, but that's out of our hands," Brohm said.
Besides, Brohm knows there's still plenty of work to do before the Cardinals can start thinking about playing in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8. First, they play at No. 15 Rutgers (8-0, 3-0) next Thursday night.
"Now the biggest game in Louisville history is this Rutgers game coming up," Brohm said.
West Virginia quarterback Pat White ran for 125 yards and four touchdowns and added 222 yards through the air. But he couldn't overcome three WVU turnovers and a relentless Louisville offense that racked up 468 total yards and kept the Mountaineers on their heels all night.
"If you (turn the ball over) against a good football team at their place, you're going to get beat," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said.
The Cardinals avenged last year's triple-overtime loss to West Virginia (7-1, 2-1) by returning a fumble and a punt for touchdowns during a pivotal three-minute stretch in the third quarter. Then, they delivered on their offseason motto to "finish," born during last year's loss to the Mountaineers, a game Louisville led by 17 in the fourth quarter.
"We have been working on that ever since last year, working on that `finish' attitude and it came through for us," linebacker Malik Jackson said.
Heisman Trophy hopeful Steve Slaton ran for 156 yards and a touchdown for West Virginia, but fumbled on consecutive snaps in the third quarter -- apparently bothered by weakness in his left arm. Jackson returned the second one 13 yards for a score that gave the Cardinals a 23-14 lead, and Trent Guy added a 40-yard punt return four plays later, pushing Louisville's advantage to 30-16 with 9:23 left in the third.
And this time, there would be no miracle comeback.
Though White led the Mountaineers on a pair of touchdown drives to get them back in it, the Cardinals responded each time with a score of their own. Brohm connected with Mario Urrutia on a 7-yard TD pass and Anthony Allen added a 5-yard touchdown run to keep the Cardinals safely in front.
"We had to stay aggressive and keep scoring," Petrino said. "We wanted to be aggressive and make sure to keep attacking. Our players like it that way."
Set back by their own mistakes, the Mountaineers simply couldn't keep pace as their school-record 14-game winning streak ended while a packed Papa John's Stadium crowd -- clad mostly in black T-shirts that read "Beat WVU" -- stormed the field.
Urrutia finished with six catches for 113 yards and Harry Douglas caught six passes for 116 yards as Louisville seemingly did whatever it wanted on offense.
"You've got to go out there and get three and out and we didn't do that," West Virginia linebacker Jay Henry said.
The Cardinals punted just three times and scored on all but four of their possessions as they extended their home winning streak to 16 straight and beat West Virginia for the first time since 1990.
"This is unbelievable. It's the best feeling ever," Louisville center Eric Wood said. "I hope everyone is thinking that Louisville is for real this year and we are going to be a national title contender for a while to come."
West Virginia finished with 540 yards of total offense but put the ball on the ground six times, committed seven penalties and appeared a step behind the Cardinals most of the night.
Neither team looked comfortable playing on a national stage early on. The Cardinals dropped passes, tripped over their own feet in the open field and settled for field goals deep in West Virginia territory. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, couldn't hold onto the ball.
Louisville managed a 16-14 lead at halftime behind Art Carmody's three field goals and a 10-yard touchdown run by Allen as the Cardinals controlled the clock and did a good job of keeping Slaton and White off the field.
"We weren't getting frustrated because we knew we were moving the ball," Brohm said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The Cardinals returned a fumble and a punt for scores early in the third quarter to bust the game open.
Gameball goes to... Brian Brohm. Looks like his thumb has healed. Louisville's quarterback threw for 354 yards and a touchdown.
Stat of the game... 1,008. The Cardinals and Mountaineers set a Big East record by combining for 1,008 total yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-9||4-10|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|FG||10:48||ARTHUR CARMODY 39 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||4:18||STEVE SLATON 42 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||13:34||ARTHUR CARMODY 25 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||7:04||ANTHONY ALLEN 10 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||4:42||PAT WHITE 2 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 81 yards.
|FG||1:36||ARTHUR CARMODY 18 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 76 yards.
|TD||12:08||MALIK JACKSON 13 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)||14||23|
|TD||9:23||TRENT GUY 40 YD PUNT RETURN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)||14||30|
|TD||2:29||PAT WHITE 5 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 92 yards.
|TD||14:55||MARIO URRUTIA 7 YD PASS FROM BRIAN BROHM (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||12:41||PAT WHITE 5 YD RUN (FAILED 2PT RUSH)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 51 yards.
|TD||10:19||ANTHONY ALLEN 5 YD RUN (ARTHUR CARMODY KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||2:18||PAT WHITE 2 YD RUN (PAT MCAFEE KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 91 yards.