Louisville dominates Syracuse 41-17 for third straight win
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Another dose of defense helped spur Louisville to the offensive explosion it has sought all season.
Kyle Bolin threw for a season-high 362 yards and three touchdowns, and Louisville gained a season-high 579 yards to rout Syracuse 41-17 on Saturday for its third straight victory.
More impressive than the yardage was how the Cardinals did it. They ran the ball hard and often at the Orange and gained 217 yards on 31 carries, its third-highest total this season.
That opened things up for Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino to gamble on fourth and 2 from the 48 with the kind of play typifying his offensive expertise. With Syracuse defenders covering wideouts downfield, Bolin found tight end Keith Towbridge wide open off the line for a 32-yard pass that set up a 13-yard touchdown pass to Cole Hikutini for a 21-10 lead.
Louisville never lost control.
''We blocked better, finished blocks better and executed,'' Petrino said. ''We broke a lot of tackles after contact. I thought all of our offense - the running backs, tight ends, offensive line - did a good job.''
Credit Bolin for getting the job done in place of injured freshman Lamar Jackson. The sophomore used his first start since Clemson to complete 24 of 35 passes with an interception for the Cardinals (5-4, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won five of six.
Bolin hit eight receivers with James Quick and Jamari Staples combining for nine receptions for 151 yards. Hikutini caught TDs passes of 13 and 10 yards for Louisville.
''It was all due to the support of my team,'' Bolin said. ''The (offensive)-line did a good job of picking up the blitzes, our receivers ran great routes and caught the ball. I was able to deliver the ball based on what the defense told me to do.''
Brandon Radcliff added a season-high 117 yards rushing on 10 carries while Jeremy Smith had 71 and a 4-yard touchdown on 13 attempts.
Louisville's defense meanwhile continued its recent stinginess, holding Syracuse (3-6, 1-4) to 286 yards and forcing three turnovers including two interceptions in its sixth straight loss. Trumaine Washington returned one pickoff 39 yards for a 14-10 lead in the second quarter, and the Cardinals poured it on in outscoring the Orange 34-7 over the final three quarters.
John Wallace kicked two field goals to become Louisville's career leader with 62.
Syracuse's highlights were Ervin Philips' 10-yard touchdown run set up by Cordell Hudson's interception, and Steve Ishmael's late 9-yard TD pass from Zack Mahoney. Starting QB Eric Dungey was 15 of 30 for 158 yards and two interceptions and rushed 13 times for 45 yards.
He left late in the fourth quarter with what coach Scott Shafer said afterward was a head injury. Shafer said he left Dungey in hopes of trying to get a couple of scores and possibly mount a rally that never materialized.
''I feel horrible that he got hit,'' Shafer said of Dungey. ''If I had 20-20 hindsight, I would've taken him out the play before that or something. ... Hopefully, he'll be OK.''
Hardest for the Orange to grasp was allowing a season worst in yardage after allowing 575 yards at No. 17 Florida State last week.
Things didn't look so promising for Louisville when it trailed 10-7 midway through the second quarter and looked sluggish after opening the game with a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Washington then stepped up with the game-changing interception that ignited the Cardinals on both sides of the ball.
The Louisville freshman read the route perfectly and jumped it to pick off Dungey and fly down the left sideline for the go-ahead TD. Washington finished with a team-high 12 tackles including a sack.
''Trumaine is a student of the game,'' linebacker James Burgess said of Washington. ''When he came here he was hungry, and now he's still hungry.''
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