Louisville beats Virginia 38-31
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) What a difference a year makes for Louisville's James Quick versus Virginia.
The Cardinals receiver didn't catch a pass but made the game's biggest play when his perfectly-timed plow into Virginia's Olamide Zaccheaus forced a fumble on a punt return. Stacy Thomas recovered the ball near the Louisville end zone to set up the fourth-quarter go-ahead score that sparked Saturday's 38-31 win.
''It was great job of hustling down the field,'' Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said of Quick. ''It was probably really close to whether that is a penalty or not a penalty.''
Last year, Quick fumbled a punt in the fourth quarter after a teammate bumped into him. The Cavaliers recovered and four plays later kicked a field goal for a 23-21 upset victory and their first win against a ranked team in nearly three years.
''James was going as hard as he could possibly go,'' Petrino said of Quick's chance at redemption. ''When you go hard and play fast good things happen.''
Virginia coach Mike London saw the play differently.
''When you hit a defenseless player like that, you have to allow a guy the opportunity to catch a punt,'' London said. ''It really is unfortunate for an event like that to change the course of a game.''
It set up the first of two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Cardinals (6-4, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) that broke open a 24-24 tie. L.J. Scott's 1-yard score came with 8:30 remaining, two plays after Quick's forced fumble.
Brandon Radcliff's 36-yard touchdown run capped a 96-yard drive with 2:57 left for a 38-24 lead.
Radcliff rushed for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cardinals' rushing attack. Louisville rushed for 266 yards - their fifth 200-yard rushing performance of the season - and is now bowl eligible for the sixth year in a row.
''We have a motto to wear the opponent's defense out when we get into the fourth quarter,'' Radcliff said. ''That's the plan.''
Virginia (3-7, 2-4) tried to rally as Matt Johns threw his fourth touchdown pass with 1:16 remaining to cut the lead to 38-31. The Cavaliers then recovered the onside kick but were flagged for illegal formation, allowing Louisville to run out the clock.
The Cardinals' fourth-straight win continues the turnaround following an 0-3 start and avenged last year's 23-21 loss in Charlottesville.
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino again saw his seniors win their final home game, running his collegiate record to 11-0 on senior day, six at Louisville. A crowd of 51,233 watched the Cardinals' 13 seniors improve their career record to 38-11.
''I can't tell you how much they helped when things didn't go well to start the season - their attitude, their work ethic, their leadership,'' Petrino said of his seniors. ''I am really happy we were able to win their last game that they get to play here.''
It was another close call for Virginia, who has had seven games decided by seven or fewer points. The Cavaliers have lost four of those games.
Louisville quarterback Kyle Bolin finished 10 of 21 with 139 yards passing. Former quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed his only attempt for a touchdown, a 20-yard halfback pass to Jaylen Smith.
Tight end Cole Hikutini led Cardinals' receivers with four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Matt Johns completed 25 of 41 for 260 yards and four TDs. Canaan Severin caught eight passes for 116 yards and three TDs. Running back Taquen ''Smoke'' Mizzell caught nine passes for 89 yards and rushed 14 times for 40 yards.