By Aaron Williams–
The University of Louisville Cardinals took control of their home opener against the Murray State Racers on Sept. 1 early in the first half by using a balanced offensive attack that was highlighted by two touchdown passes thrown by junior quarterback Will Stein in the first and second quarter and a touchdown run in by senior running
back Victor Anderson near the end of the first quarter.
“We got the win and that’s all that matters,” said Stein in remarks he made to the press following the 21-9 final. Stein’s first touchdown pass of the game and of the season came at the 5:10 mark in the first quarter when he completed a four yard pass to his former high school teammate junior wide receiver Scott Radcliff.
“That was his first touchdown and my first one of the year. It’s really special to throw to a guy like that,” said Stein in his postgame comments.
Stein went on to throw for 226 yards for the game.
The Cards ran the ball for an additional 159 yards over the course of the game. Louisville’s junior quarterback put it in the hands of Anderson with under four minutes to play in the first quarter and Anderson did not disappoint.
After an 11-yard rush from the Murray State 13 yard line, Anderson weaved his way through the Racer defense to grab the remaining two yards between himself and the end zone.
“The guys up front did a great job blocking and sealing the edge,” said Anderson in a postgame interview, “I just bounced it outside and used my speed to get to the end zone, but the guys up front did it all.”
Anderson rushed for 61 yards on nine carries for the game.
Louisville’s last touchdown came at 13:20 to play in the first half when Stein connected with freshman receiver DeVante Parker for a 39-yard pass, the Cards’ longest of the game, to the corner of the end zone. Parker displayed his raw athleticism as he climbed over interfering Racer coverage to make the catch with one arm.
Defensively, the Cardinals harassed Murray State’s key offensive contributors junior quarterback Casey Brockman, who threw three interceptions, and senior running back Mike Harris. Louisville sophomore linebacker Preston Brown seemed to have sophomore Racer running back Duane Brady’s number, making multiple tackles on him throughout the game. Brady only managed fifteen yards for the contest.
Senior defensive end William Savoy had one sack on Racer quarterback Brockman and senior defensive tackle Greg Scruggs, who started at game time despite injury rumors, recorded another.
Senior linebacker Dexter Heyman rounded out the Cards’ strong defensive performance, recording one of the three interceptions for Louisville.
The Racers managed to get in field goal range and put three on the board before going to the locker room at halftime and came out in the second half and scored six before botching the extra point. However, the Cards defensive effort was enough to hold the lead in a second half that found Louisville looking lost and out of rhythm at times on offense.
Coach Strong was sure to credit the defense and the young corners. “Defensively, even without [Greg] Scruggs, we are a limited number tonight. BJ Butler not playing at all, Brandon Dunn not playing at all. Roy Philon didn’t play tonight. There are four guys right there not playing,” said Strong, “I was very pleased to see Marcus Smith, Malcolm Mitchell and Randy Salmon. We had some guys that played a lot tonight on defense, but I was just very pleased with the way our corners played.”
Overall, the Cards, though out of rhythm in second half, did enough to get past the Racers and earn their first victory of the 2011 season. Will Stein summarizes the feeling of the game the best with his postgame remark,
“It’s good to be 1-0 and to feel that victory feeling. As a player I always feel like I could have done something better. We have to look at the film and see what we need to fix and correct that for next week.”
Photo: Michael Baldwin/ The Louisville Cardinal