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Louisville Collapses vs. Virginia, Fall in ACC Home Opener

The Cardinals blew a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If Louisville had a bad taste in their mouthes after the loss at Wake Forest, that taste was exasperated against Virginia. 

Returning to Cardinal Stadium for a matchup with the Cavaliers in their ACC home opener, the Cardinals saw a 17-point lead go up in flames, as they fell 34-33 Saturday in front of 40,320.

Trailing by three at halftime, Louisville (3-3, 1-2 ACC) then fired off a 20-point run during the third quarter, racing out to a 30-13 lead entering the fourth. From there, it was all Virginia (3-3, 2-2 ACC), as the Hoos responded with a 21-3 fourth quarter run of their own to capture the win in the final minute.

Running back Hassan Hall was the highlight of the offensive end, rushing for a career-high 162 yards with a touchdown to boot. Quarterback Malik Cunningham finished 17-for-25 passing with 270 yards and a score.

The other sideline, as expected, chose to operate through the air. Brennan Armstrong finished the game 40-60 for 487 yards - the second-most passing yards ever allowed by Louisville - along with three touchdowns. Wide receivers Ra'Shaun Henry and Keytaon Thompson combined for 311 yards on 18 receptions.

Each team was quick to strike, with both Virginia and Louisville scoring a touchdown on their opening drives. The Cavaliers orchestrated an eight-play, 85-yard drive for the game's first touchdown, while the Cardinals scored on their first offensive play with a 91-yard touchdown pass to Harrell.

In fact, early on, the game looked to living up to its' billing as a high-flying offensive shootout. Both teams combined for 344 yards of total offense during the first quarter, with Virginia adding 25- and 22-yard field goals from Brendan Farrell, and Louisville notching a 28-yard field goal from James Turner in the game's first 20 minutes.

Down the stretch of the second quarter, defense - and partially offensive ineptitude - took over. After the shootout that was the first quarter, both teams combined for 186 yards in the second quarter. Both struggled to establish the run, and the chunk plays from the first quarter all but disappeared.

The Cardinals' last three drives of the half ended with a three-and-out, a fumble by Josh Johnson, and a 45-yard field goal that sailed wide right. As for the Hoos, their final two drives ended with a punt and a 56-yard field goal try that came up just short.

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It was all Louisville when the teams reconvened after halftime, as the Cardinals scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter alone.

Hall exploded for a 52-yard rushing touchdown, Jalen Mitchell added one from three yards out, while Turner kicked two more field goals - good from 28- and 38-yards. On defense, two of Virginia's three drives in the quarter ended in Louisville interceptions, with Trey Franklin and Kenderick Duncan each snatching a pass.

As dominant as Louisville looked during the third quarter, Virginia looked to threaten that lead to start the fourth. Between Armstrong's prowess and a pair of stalled Louisville drives to start the quarter, the Hoos responded with a 14-point run of their own, trimming the Cardinals' lead to just three points with under eight minutes to go.

Turner was able to kick a 40-yard field goal for his fourth of the game, tying the single-game school record, but it still gave Virginia a window to tie or win. With just over two minutes left, the Cavaliers strung together a 12-play, 75-yard drive - one that required two fourth down conversions - that culminated in the game-winning one-yard score to Grant Misch.

Louisville now heads into their bye week, and will retake the field in two weeks when they host Boston College at Cardinal Stadium. Kickoff against the Eagles is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23, with the kick time and television designation to be determined at a later date.

(Photo of Jack Fagot: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)

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