Miami Upends Louisville in ACC Opener
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hoping to avenge their 52-27 loss to Miami a season ago, once again Louisville found themselves on the wrong end of a blowout.
With both teams finding themselves in the top 20 for a highly-billed rematch in front of ESPN's College GameDay, defensive breakdowns coupled with a slow start was the primary catalyst for a 47-34 loss at the hands of the No. 17 Hurricanes (2-0, 1-0 ACC) on Saturday night in their conference opener.
Like last season, the No. 18 Cardinals (1-1, 0-1 ACC) found relative success on offense as they gained 516 yards, but defensively could not seem to get things figured out as the Canes accumulated 485 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play.
Both signal callers largely lived up to the hype heading into the match. Louisville QB Malik Cunningham completed 26 of his 36 attempts and threw for 307 yards & three touchdowns to one interception, while Miami QB D'Eriq King went 18 for 30 and threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns.
Louisville was the first to strike in the game thanks to sophomore placekicker James Turner's first collegiate field goal, but the Hurricanes owned the first half. After being forced to punt on their opening possession, Miami then proceeded to score on their next four drives.
A pair of first quarter touchdowns followed by a pair of second quarter field goals contributed to a 20-point effort from the Hurricanes during the first half of play, with another field goal from Turner coming in between. TE Will Mallory hauled in a 17-yard score, RB Jaytan Knighton punched it in from three yards out, and kicker Jose Borregales nailed 48-yard & 57-yard field goals.
Conversely, the Cardinals seemed to be lost on offense throughout much of the first half. Louisville did not convert a single third down, going 0-6 while Miami went 4-9. Had it not been for Miami's 8 penalties for 64 yards during this time, Louisville might have been trailing by a lot more than 14 points at the half.
When the teams reconvened after the intermission, Louisville's offense looked a lot more poised. Their first two drives of the half resulted in their first two touchdowns of the game, one thanks to a 19-yard Javian Hawkins run and the other courtesy of a 6-yard catch and run from Tutu Atwell. Both would finish over the century mark in yardage with Hawkins rushing for 163 yards and Atwell tallying 114 yards receiving.
The Cardinals' defense, on the other hand, looked anything but concentrated out of the half. Miami's first two plays of the half both resulted in 75-yard scores thanks to egregious defensive breakdowns. RB Cam'Ron Harris took advantage of a poorly set edge, and UofL's secondary left RB Jaylan Knighton completely unaccounted for out of the backfield for an easy catch and run.
Louisville was able to tally a pair of late touchdowns, a 4-yard pass to Marshon Ford & 19-yard pass to Atwell, but the defense continued to struggle. Jose Borregales added a 22-yard & 40-yard field goal to his ledger, and a 47-yard strike to All-ACC tight end Brevin Jordan saw the Canes score on five straight drives.
Louisville is set to embark on their first road trip of the season next weekend, traveling to face the Pitt Panthers. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26 at 12:00 p.m. on the ACC Network.
(Photo of Malik Cunningham: Atlantic Coast Conference)
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