Louisville nearly fumbles away their playoff hopes

By on November 12, 2016

By Dalton Ray–

Louisville escaped a nightmare situation in their own backyard Nov. 12. Wake Forest gave Louisville all they could handle as Louisville pulled out a 44-12 victory.

The Cardinals lost three fumbles and five sacks, putting them in an early hole. Louisville trailed most of the night and scored 34 of their 44 points.

Brandon Radcliff ended with 141 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns. Lamar Jackson had an off night through the air, but finished with 298 total yards. Devonte Fields had his best game of the season with three sacks.

On Louisville’s first play of the game, Jackson completed a pass to Jaylen Smith, who then fumbled. The Demon Deacons recovered the fumble and converted the turnover into three points.

On U of L’s next drive, Louisville still couldn’t get anything going. Going deep on first down, Jamari Staples couldn’t handle Jackson’s pass and dropped a would-be touchdown. WF sacked Jackson on third down, forcing the Cards to punt.

In the first quarter, WF benefitted from good field position and knocked in two field goals. The defense let up a few big plays, but tightened on second and third downs. Keith Kelsey recovered a fumble late in the first quarter to give the Cardinals a spark.

Radcliff and Jackson put together good chunks of yardage after the Cards gathered the fumble. All the momentum gained with the big runs ended when Radcliff fumbled on a handoff exchange.

On a third down, Wake’s John Wolford scrambled for a 25-yard gain. Explosive plays and missed tackles hurt the Cardinals. Once again, the Deacons capped off their drive with a field goal.

Todd Grantham sent pressure on multiple third downs, as he is known for, but the Cardinals couldn’t get ahold of Wolford. The Cards shot up field and allowed big running lanes for the quarter to run through. WF sent in their fourth field goal of the game midway through the second quarter.

Just before the half, Jackson began to start working on the ground. After nearly throwing an interception in the endzone, the Cards finally got on the board with a field goal. At halftime, WF led 12-3 and dominated the time of possession, 21 minutes to Louisville’s eight.

Louisville managed six first downs and 128 total yards in the first half. The Deacons sacked Jackson four times and the Cards had three fumbles.

To start the second half, Louisville got back-to-back stops from their defense. On a zone-read, Jackson handed the ball to Radcliff who ripped off a huge 55-yard gain right up the middle. Louisville cut the lead to 12-10. For the first time all night, the fans had something to cheer about.

Jackson busted off his own 55-yard rush with under six to play in the third. On the same zone-read, Jackson rode Radcliff deep before pulling the ball and darting through the secondary. Louisville ended the drive with a missed 43-yard field goal three plays later.

Wake Forest attacked the middle of the field and waited for natural running lanes to occur on multiple third downs. WF’s conversions kept the Louisville defense gasping for air while keeping Jackson well rested.

Wake Forest forced U of L into third and long situations throughout the night. The Deacons let up some big runs by Jackson, but they kept the Heisman-hopeful in check by getting to him early.

On a drive that included two third down conversions and a fourth down conversion, the Cards took their first lead. Radcliff’s seven-yard run put Louisville ahead 16-12 with under 11 minutes remaining.

A blocked punt sealed the fate of the Demon Deacons as the Cardinals took over on their own 46 yard line. Bobby Petrino went for the knockout punch on the first play after as he called a bootleg rollout and put Jackson on the move. After picking up the first down, Radcliff ran in his third score of the game.

Fields’ sack forced a fourth down and WF followed that with a short punt. The Cardinals cashed in on the great field position as Jackson found Cole Hikutini on a two-yard pass in the endzone. Louisville capped the game off with a 32-yard pick-six by Ronald Walker and a two-yard touchdown from Malik Williams.

Photo by Mike Henderson / The Louisville Cardinal

About Dalton Ray

Sports editor (2016-2018) that is technically award winning.Email: dray@louisvillecardinal.com

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