By Derek DeBurger

The Jeff Brohm era of Louisville football started with a hard-fought win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on Friday night, 39-34. 

A look inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta pre-kickoff Photo Courtesy // Ethan Rutter

A game of nerves and firsts

This was a game of many more firsts, though; it was the first win in a season opener since 2020, the first win in program history against Georgia Tech, and the first time the football program has ever won in the state of Georgia. There was an overwhelming sense of excitement and optimism entering tonight’s game coming from the Cardinal fanbase. The hype surrounding new head coach Jeff Brohm and this 2023 squad had many fans expecting an easy win. 

The game started out high energy, but quickly turned sloppy on both sides of the ball. Several missed opportunities, including an early targeting call against defensive back Ben Perry that disqualified him for the rest of the contest, left the momentum stagnant. The Cards only put six points up on the board after being inside the red zone twice. Key misses from quarterback Jack Plummer caused the Cards to have to settle for field goals early on. Plummer was 2-of-7 throwing in the first quarter. 

The second quarter was all Yellow Jackets as they scored 28 points in just four possessions to Louisville’s lone touchdown. Former Louisville-turned-Tech running back Trey Cooley swarmed the endzone twice in the quarter– once on a goal-line dive, and another on a 23-yard run. After Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King found wide receiver Chase Lane for a 48-yard bomb, all momentum had swung firmly in the hands of the Jackets. The only thing Louisville had to hang their hats on was a missed field goal by Tech kicker Gavin Stewart to end the half 13-28.

Back-half birds

“I didn’t lift a lot of spirits at halftime. I try to be as positive as I can, but somebody needed to challenge our players…and our coaches to do more, and that’s including me. I made too many mistakes,” Brohm said in his post-game presser. Whatever he did say certainly had an impact because Louisville came out of the locker room playing a much tighter game.

The Cards marched down the field on a 12-play drive but unfortunately had to settle for three in the red zone once again as Plummer missed another crucial throw. Louisville’s stout defense would then force Georgia Tech to punt on their next two drives, followed by a 33-yard missed field goal. The Cards came storming back with a pair of touchdown grabs by Georgia State transfer wide receiver Jamari Thrash, resulting in a 29-28 Louisville lead (though, they failed a two-point conversion attempt).

The pendulum of momentum swung dramatically back towards the Cards.

The following Georgia Tech drive was 10 plays, just over four minutes that ended after lineman Dezmond Tell strip-sacked Haynes, and Kameron Wilson recovered. The very next play was a 74-yard touchdown run by star running back Jawhar Jordan, giving the Cards some well-deserved insurance – a 36-28 lead. After a quick three-and-out by Tech, Louisville kicked a field goal to create a two-possession cushion at 39-28. Georgia Tech scored one final touchdown, but after the failed two-point conversion and the failed onside kick, it was too little too late. The final score was 39-34, Louisville.

Wide Reciever Jamari Thrash Photo Courtesy // John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Key Takeaways

A win is a win, but it admittedly didn’t look pretty. 

Louisville scored on all of their red zone trips but were forced into three field goals leaving 12 points on the field. Louisville was also just one for 11 on third downs they faced. These are two stats that are not usually key to victories, but Brohm and company showed their ability to make adjustments when it mattered most. Standout performances by key offensive players helped get Louisville over the hump in the first outing of the season. 

After a nightmare start, Jack Plummer was able to finish throwing 18-for-31 with 247 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. Jawhar Jordan had 96 yards on seven carries, just four yards short of his fourth 100-yard performance streak he started at the end of last season. In his first game in the red and black, Jamari Thrash showed flashes of brilliance with seven receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns. 

Louisville plays their next game at 7:30 P.M. Thursday, Sept. 7 against the Murray State Racers in Jeff Brohm’s first-ever home opener as head coach.

Photo Courtesy // Taris Smith –, Ethan Rutter, John David Mercer – USA Today SPORTS