September 9, 2018

Football defeats Indiana State in rain-soaked home opener

By Matt Bradshaw —

In the longest game of program history, football defeated Indiana State 31-7. Three hours of weather delays slowed the matchup and heavy rain made both offenses sluggish.

Redshirt freshman Malik Cunningham received his chance to play quarterback on the field and led the offense to three touchdowns. Redshirt senior Jeremy Smith was Louisville’s leading rusher with six carries for 56 yards.

First quarter

After U of L and Indiana State traded possessions, the Cards got their first score of the night. Redshirt sophomore Rodjay Burns ran a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown.

The punt return was Louisville’s first for a touchdown since 2016, when Jaire Alexander accomplished the feat against Florida State.

Following the touchdown, over two hours of weather delays stalled play during the first quarter.

Indiana State quickly tied the contest 7-7 after the delay. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jawon Pass turned the ball over with an interception and the Sycamores took advantage with a rushing touchdown.

Another lengthy weather delay followed the score. The opening quarter ended three hours after kickoff with Louisville and Indiana State tied at 7-7.

Second quarter

There were no more delays after the first quarter but rain continued to fall profusely. The wet conditions affected play noticeably for both teams.

Midway through the second quarter, the Cards had a chance to take the lead with possession in the Sycamore red zone. Redshirt senior Mickey Crum fumbled the ball after receiving a pass from “Puma” and U of L missed their opportunity.

At halftime, the score remained tied 7-7. Louisville produced 88 yards without a touchdown over the course of three drives.

Third quarter

After another failed possession from Pass in the third quarter, head coach Bobby Petrino subbed in Cunningham at quarterback. “Puma” finished the night 8-for-14 for 89 yards and an interception.

Redshirt freshman Cunningham sparked the offense in Lamar Jackson-fashion. His first possession was a 11-play, 83-yard touchdown drive that lasted a little over five minutes. The frosh gave U of L the 14-7 lead with a one-yard rushing touchdown.

Fourth quarter

Cunningham’s next touchdown drive was four plays and under two minutes long. After a complete pass and a couple of rushes, sophomore Mekhi Becton rushed for a score and 21-7 Louisville lead.

Redshirt junior Blanton Creque completed a 43-yard field goal on the next possession, stretching the lead to 24-7.

Senior Jaylen Smith scored the Cardinals’ final touchdown with a 34-yard reception from Cunningham. Indiana State had little to no production from their offense, completing just three passes and falling 31-7

Louisville hosts WKU on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.

Photos by Nancy Hanner and Karen Nguyen / The Louisville Cardinal

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