LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Cincinnati blew a second-half lead for the second straight week, and this one really hurt.
Munchie Legaux threw a costly interception in overtime, leading to John Wallace's winning 30-yard field goal in No. 16 Louisville's 34-31 victory over the Bearcats on Friday night.
Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1 Big East) led 24-14 with 10:26 remaining in the third quarter, but needed a late touchdown pass by Legaux just to get to overtime.
"I thought they showed a lot of resiliency, especially on the road to come back and tie the score," Bearcats coach Butch Jones said. "They made one more play in overtime, and that was the difference in the game."
That one play was Terrell Floyd's first career interception on an underthrown ball by Legaux in the end zone. Louisville then ran the ball five straight times to set up Wallace's winning kick.
"You can't do that," Jones said of Legaux's last pass of the game. "Sometimes the best play is an overthrow."
Jones called timeout right before the field-goal attempt in overtime, and the high snap went through the holder's hands. Jones just shrugged and Wallace drilled the ball through the uprights to give Louisville the win.
"I was calm and cool," said Wallace, who was carried off the field on his teammates' shoulders. "I had a lot of confidence."
Louisville (8-0, 3-0) stopped a four-game slide in the series against Cincinnati and captured the Keg of Nails trophy that goes to the winner of the rivalry.
"We just hate losing to these dudes," said senior linebacker Greg Blair, who had 19 tackles for the Bearcats. "It's a Big East game and they are just down the road. I just hate losing to them."
Teddy Bridgewater connected with DeVante Parker for two terrific touchdowns after the Cardinals fell behind by 10 in the third.
Parker's tying 30-yard grab in the fourth was initially ruled incomplete. He juggled the ball near the back of the end zone but brought it in with one foot inbounds, and it was changed to a touchdown after a replay review.
"That was a big-time, big-time play right there," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said.
Parker gave the Cardinals the lead with a 64-yard catch-and-run with 1:56 remaining, but the Bearcats tied it at 31 on Legaux's 26-yard pass to Damon Julian with just over a minute left.
The duel between Bridgewater and Legaux took on some added significance this week when the Cincy quarterback declared he was better than his Cardinals counterpart.
That certainly wasn't the case on this night.
Bridgewater overcame a slow start and completed 24 of 41 passes for 416 yards and the pair of TD strikes to Parker, who had four catches for 120 yards. Legaux ran for a score but tossed three interceptions, including the costly mistake in overtime.
"We never got down," said Legaux, who was 13 for 28 for 157 yards. "I wanted to execute and make a play. The cornerback did a great job of breaking on the ball. That's one of the plays you wish you could have back."
George Winn rushed for 125 yards on 26 carries for the Bearcats, who led by 10 points twice but dropped their second consecutive game after a 5-0 start. Ralph David Abernathy had touchdown runs of 14 and 4 yards.
Louisville grabbed a 7-3 lead on Jeremy Wright's 1-yard plunge but Cincinnati bounced back with Abernathy's first scoring run and Legaux's TD to build a 17-7 advantage with 8:05 left in the first half.
The Cardinals responded with their best drive of the night, marching 80 yards down the field. Senorise Perry's 8-yard touchdown run trimmed Cincinnati's lead to 17-14 at the break.
It was a rough half for both quarterbacks. Bridgewater was just 9 of 22 for 154 yards and his fourth interception of the season, while Legaux was 4 of 15 for 54 with two INTs.
Cincinnati began the second half with another impressive drive, going 73 yards in 10 plays for another 10-point cushion on Abernathy's 4-yard TD run.