(Saturday, October 25th)
Final Score: Louisville 24, (14) South Florida 20
Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Hunter Cantwell rushed for a score and tossed two touchdowns to Scott Long in Louisville's 24-20 triumph over 14th- ranked South Florida in Big East play at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Cantwell threw for 212 yards with an interception on 12-of-21 passing, while Long finished with 134 receiving yards on five receptions for the Cardinals (5-2, 1-1 Big East), who have rattled off three straight wins.
Victor Anderson and Brock Bolen led the rushing attack with 64 and 47 yards, respectively, for Louisville.
"I'm really proud of our football team," Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "The way they played today, the way they started and continued to fight, battle and persevere today in a seesaw battle against a very good, top 20 football team."
Matt Grothe and the Bulls (6-2, 1-2) were held in check for a grand total of eight yards on the ground in the program's second loss in three games after starting the season 5-0.
Grothe finished with 344 yards passing with two touchdowns and a pair of costly interceptions on 30-of-40 attempts. Eleven different players caught a pass with Taurus Johnson logging a team-high 94 yards on six catches.
Trailing 24-20, the Bulls took over at their own 20-yard line with 3:43 remaining, but a pressured Grothe lofted an ill-advised pass over the middle and Louisville cornerback Johnny Patrick made a diving interception.
"When [Grothe] threw the interception he was just trying so hard to make something happen," USF head coach Jim Leavitt said. "I almost can't fault him. I know you can't throw the interception, but that poor guy was just, vowing for life. He didn't want to take a sack."
Ryan Payne missed a 37-yard field goal attempt on the next possession for the Cardinals, but a defensive holding penalty gave Louisville an automatic first down and extinguished USF's comeback bid.
"We just had a lot of mistakes that set us back," Johnson said. "We tried our hardest to come back at the end, but we had the flag on the field goal and there's nothing we can do about it except move on to the next game."
Neither team scored in the opening 15 minutes, but the Bulls mixed the run and pass effectively in a time-consuming drive that resulted in Maikon Bonani's 32-yard field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Louisville responded with a 69-yard hookup from Cantwell to Long that put the hosts ahead, 7-3.
"It was great to come out there and make some plays for my team," Long said. "And that was such a big game on a big stage like this. It was a good feeling."
The Cardinals made it an 11-point game thanks to a short field later in the quarter. Cantwell hit Bolen for a 14-yard pickup and Anderson rushed 17 yards down to the one before Cantwell called his own number for the score.
The TD occurred with 50 seconds left in the half, but consecutive completions of 15, 17 and 22 yards allowed Bonani to make it a 14-6 game on his 24-yard kick before the halftime whistle.
A holding penalty negated a successful fake punt for Louisville early in the second half. The momentum shifted further in the Bulls' favor when Kion Wilson came up with an interception. USF turned it into seven points on Grothe's rollout pass to Richard Kelly from three yards out at the 3:05 mark of the third, bringing the Bulls within 14-13.
Louisville answered with a 10-play, 61-yard drive but only managed to put three points on the board on Payne's 34-yard field goal.
Grothe brought the Bulls right down the field by connecting on all six of his attempts on the ensuing drive, the last to a wide-open Ben Busbee for a 15- yard touchdown to go ahead 20-17 with 9:22 left on the clock.
The Cardinals took the lead right back on the arm of Cantwell, who lofted a beautifully thrown ball to Long over the middle for a 24-yard score just two minutes later.
Louisville plays just its second road game of the season next Saturday at Syracuse, while South Florida has a short week before traveling to Cincinnati on Thursday...It was USF's first loss on the road this season (3-1)...The all- time series is now 3-3, with the home team winning each contest...The Cardinals had 111 yards rushing...Jessie Hester hauled in a game-high eight balls for 74 yards for South Florida.
10/25 22:38:30 ET