Cardinals QB sustains season-ending knee injury
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville must finish the season without starting quarterback Will Gardner.
The school announced Tuesday that Gardner is out for the rest of the season after injuring his left knee during the first half of Saturday's 38-19 victory at Boston College. He has twice had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, with the second operation coming in his freshman season with the Cardinals.
Gardner's injury means freshman Reggie Bonnafon, who threw for two touchdowns against BC, will take over for the Cardinals when they return from a bye at No. 15 Notre Dame on Nov. 22.
Senior transfer Brett Nelson and redshirt freshman Kyle Bolin also have been listed on the Cardinals' depth chart this season.
The Cardinals (7-3, 5-3, Atlantic Coast Conference) were 5-2 in Gardner's seven starts. He had 1,669 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Support for Gardner quickly rolled in on social media, including a tweet from former Louisville teammate Senorise Perry that said, ''Praying for you bro (at)willgardner-11 ! God got you!'' Perry's 2012 season was cut short by a knee injury but he returned to start last season.
Gardner later said on his Twitter account, ''I would like to thank everyone that has reached out to me, it really means a lot and God has a plan for everything!!''
The school said in a release that he will have surgery but didn't specify a date.
''It is really unfortunate and disappointing for Will because of how hard he has worked and how respected he is in the locker room,'' Petrino said in the statement. ''Will will continue to be an integral part of our program moving forward because of his leadership he has displayed and the respect he has in the locker room. ''
After backing up star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last season, the 6-foot-5, 226-pound Gardner had an impressive spring and eventually won the starter's job over the mobile Bonnafon in fall camp. Gardner, a sophomore, led Louisville to a season-opening win over Miami in its ACC debut but also fumbled twice, including one that led to a Hurricanes field goal.
A couple of early interceptions at Virginia led to Gardner being briefly replaced by Bonnafon. He returned to lead the Cardinals back ahead before they lost to the Cavaliers 23-21.
Gardner started the next game at Florida International but hurt his left knee in that 34-3 rout and missed the next two contests against Wake Forest and Syracuse - both won by Bonnafon - before replacing the rookie in the second half at Clemson.
Gardner threw a touchdown pass along with a 73-yard completion to James Quick late in the game to position the Cardinals for a possible comeback that fell yards short in the 23-17 loss.
Gardner completed 13 of 19 passes for 188 yards before his knee buckled just before halftime at Boston College. Bonnafon relieved him and finished with a team-high 76 yards rushing on 13 carries in addition to posting his first two-TD game.
Bonnafon, a Louisville native, has completed 55 percent of his passes for 662 yards, four TDs and an interception along with rushing for 138 yards and three scores on 51 carries. He missed the FIU game to attend his father Wallace's funeral; the elder Bonnafon died of heart failure at 51.
After Notre Dame, Louisville faces rival Kentucky on Nov. 29.