By Derek DeBurger

The Louisville Cardinals fell for the trap against the Pittsburgh Panthers to suffer their first loss of the season.

All the wrong conditions

From early on Saturday night, the conditions were right for an upset. It was revealed right before the game that stars Jawhar Jordan and Jamari Thrash were nursing injuries and Pitt was starting a new quarterback, Christian Veilleux, with next to no film for head coach Jeff Brohm and company to prepare.

Louisville started off the rainy evening great, forcing Pitt to punt on their first drive and then going right down the field to score a touchdown. Louisville showed right out of the gate that they were the superior talent, 7-0.

The weather would prove to be a real issue in the next few drives for the Cards. On one drive, Louisville fumbled the ball twice and recovered both times, but the damage was already done and the Cards were forced to punt.

These offensive mishaps gave Pitt just enough confidence to keep their heads up. Veilleux threw a 46-yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter to tie the game up.

Louisville marched down the field and scored on the next drive to take back the lead, with Pitt failing to respond on their next drive. Louisville kept shooting themselves in the foot, with slip-ups and penalties keeping Pitt in the game.

Quarterback Jack Plummer ended a promising Louisville drive when he fumbled the ball in Pittsburgh territory. Pitt would then take the momentum from that turnover, and tie the game up again.

Louisville, however, had three timeouts remaining, using them to score right before halftime. The Cards led 21-14 going into the half.

A second-half collapse

Louisville was set to receive the kickoff in the second half of the game, giving the Cards a real opportunity to put the game out of reach. After going three-and-out at the start of the half, Brohm decided to go for it on fourth down inside their own 35-yard line and failed to convert. Pitt would then take over on downs, and end up kicking a field goal to cut the lead to four.

The next drive for Louisville was another three-and-out. The punt by Brock Travelstead drew a running into the kicker flag but was negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Louisville. Travelstead came up limping on the play as the penalties offset.

After punting the ball away again, Pitt methodically moved the ball 61 yards down the field in 13 plays to take the lead for the first time of the night. On the next drive, Plummer threw his first interception of the night, and the Panthers never looked back.

Plummer would then throw another interception on the next drive off of a dropped pass from wide receiver Jimmy Calloway.

The Cards continued to have opportunities to come back into the game down 10 points, but they weren’t able to capitalize when it mattered most. There were several promising drives throughout that resulted in no points. The Cards came away empty after a nine-play drive ended with a missed field goal from Travelstead.

Louisville was never able to get anything going, losing the game 21-38.


Louisville dominated the game statistically.

Louisville had 430 total yards to Pittsburgh’s 288, had 29 first downs to Pitt’s 13, had fewer penalties (five to Pitt’s eight), and even had a better third down percentage (5-13 to Pitt’s 3-14). The difference in the game was turnovers and defensive pressure.

Louisville turned the ball over three times and had four turnovers on downs. Pittsburgh had zero the entire game.

Pitt was also able to get pressure in the backfield—something they have not done all year long—and kept a consistently clean pocket for Veilleux.

While this game stings, Louisville still has a lot to play for. The Cardinals can still put together a great season and still have hope to make the ACC championship game for the first time in school history.

The Cards have a much-needed bye-week coming up, as they fall to 6-1 on the year.

Photo Courtesy // Pittsburgh Athletics