Fourth quarter miscues doom Cards

Marshall took advantage of two fourth quarter turnovers to rally past Louisville, 17-13, Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

You can call it the Kentucky Hangover. Or you can call it a lack of emotion or preparation.

But University of Louisville coach Charlie Strong probably called it best when describing his team's 17-13 loss to Marshall on Saturday afternoon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

"Total embarrassment," an obviously irritated Strong said to start his post-game press conference. "The coaches didn't do a good job of coaching and the players didn't do a good job of playing."

Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's first collegiate start wasn't nearly as successful as his first extended action – when he came in for injured Will Stein and led the Cardinals to a 24-17 come-from-behind victory over archrival on Sept. 17.

And though Bridgewater, who started in place of the still-sidelined Stein, put up more prolific numbers against the Thundering Herd (20-for-29 for 221 yards) than he did against the Wildcats (12 of 21 for 120 yards) he threw one less touchdown (one) and one more interception (two) against Marshall than he did against UK. And both of his picks proved costly. The first, with 4 minutes, 32 seconds to play, set up the Thundering Herd's go-ahead touchdown. The second, with 1:21 remaining, sealed the Cards' fate.

"I've got to learn from this," Bridgewater said afterward.

But he likely won't be the only one.

UofL (2-2) was sluggish on offense most of the game and wasn't nearly as effective running the ball (29 carries for 60 yards) as it had been in the victory at Kentucky (40 for 181).

"We've got to be able to run the football," Strong strongly stated afterward. "We have to block people, we have to go out and put on a hat on someone. We didn't run hard and we didn't block anyone."

Strong also lamented his team's lack of leadership after UofL fell to 4-6 at home under Strong.

Teddy Bridgewater made a spectacular leaping touchdown, but also threw a pair of costly fourth quarter interceptions against Marshall.
"It's all about defending your home turf," Bridgewater said. "We had a great crowd (announced at 53,267), the fans did their part, they were loud for us, we just have to win the game."

The Thundering Herd (2-3) had won just one of its first four games, but Marshall was no marshmallow, despite its 44-7 loss at Ohio on Sept. 17. Two of the Thundering Herd's three losses were to ranked opponents (West Virginia and Virginia Tech).

Strong said he tried to tell that to his team over the last two weeks, but apparently that fell on deaf ears. But he wasn't the only one who sensed something wrong.

"I could see it in practice," senior defensive end William Savoy said. "We were not as focused as we should be. Maybe some of the team was hyped up after beating Kentucky. You have to get past that, it was a good win, but we have the whole season left.

"It starts with the leadership, me as a senior and the other seniors, we have to get it going. If everybody comes out low, as a senior you have to bring the energy to practice, and we didn't do that this week…We should have won this game, plain and simple. It was just us, it wasn't the coaches' fault, it was us as players."

Louisville started slowly on offense and defense.

In the battle of freshmen quarterbacks it was Marshall's Rakeem Cato who won the early battle.

The Thundering Herd took the opening kickoff and marched downfield, going 79 yards in 12 plays, for a touchdown. It was too easy of a drive for a team that came in ranked 113th (out of 120 schools) in the Football Bowl Subdivision in scoring offense, and 112th in total offense. Marshall's Rakeem Cato won the early battle of freshmen quarterbacks as he threw a 2-yard TD to Jazz King with 8:28 left in the first quarter.

On the flip side Bridgewater short-hopped his first pass, intended for Michaelee Harris, on the Cards' three-and-out first possession.

The Thundering Herd rolled up 128 yards of offense in the first quarter, compared to the Cards' negative 9. The long bright spot for Louisville in the first quarter was Chris Philpott's 67-yard punt.

After three three-and-out possessions, though, Bridgewater finally began to look comfortable during the Cards' fourth series. He led Louisville on a 15-play, 93-yard drive to tie the game.

On the second play of that drive, a second-and-12 from the 5, Victor Anderson sprung free for a 17-yard run to give the Cards a big first down. The rest of the drive, however, was almost all Bridgewater.

He completed 6 of 7 passes for 63 (and that's not including a 10-yard TD pass to Jarrett Davis that was called back because of an illegal shift) and rushed four times for 18 yards. The quarterback capped the drive, for which he accounted for 81 yards, with a 9-yard TD run that concluded with his leap across the goal line into the end zone.

Aided by a UofL personal foul penalty on the kickoff Marshall started its fifth possession in Cards' territory, at the 45. The Thundering Herd would only get to Louisville's 30, though, and Tyler Warner's 48-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright 1:27 before halftime.

UofL seemed to gain some more momentum after that. The Cards, who ran the hurry-up offense well much of the game, quickly covered 69 yards in only three plays. The first was a 25-yard pass from Bridgewater to Josh Chichester, the second was an 8-yard pass from Bridgewater to Andrell Smith and the third was a short pass to Anderson. Anderson bounced outside and broke away for a 41-yard touchdown 33 seconds before the half. The PAT failed, but the Cards still led 13-7 at intermission.

Still Strong wasn't pleased and he once again warned his team during the half that Marshall wouldn't go away easily.

The Thundering Herd stopped the Cards on their first possession of the second half, then drove deep into UofL territory. Louisville's defense and special teams then came up big – stopping Marshall on three straight plays inside the 2, then blocking Warner's chip shot field goal attempt.

The Cards came up empty on their next possession, though, when Philpott missed a 47-yard field goal attempt, barely.

The Thundering Herd came right back and Justin Haig hit a 24-yard field goal with 1 minute left in the third quarter to pull within 13-10.

The fourth quarter was mostly a defensive standoff. And Louisville appeared to make a big defensive stand late when Tron Martinez dropped a third-down pass from Cato over the middle of the field that would have gone for a first down, and possibly a touchdown.

UofL took over on its own 19 with 6:04 to play. However Dominique Brown was dropped for a 1-yard loss, then ran for 2 yards on his way to finishing with 11 yards rushing (80 less than he had against UK). On the next play Bridgewater tried to force a pass along the UofL sideline and it was picked off by Tyson Gale at the Cards' 30.

"I should have just run it," Bridgewater said afterwards. "I shouldn't have tried to force it."

Five plays later Marshall took a 17-13 lead on Cato's 3-yard pass to C.J. Crawford.

Bridgewater and the Cards had one final chance, taking over at their own 40 with 1:49 to play. On first down Bridgewater connected with Harris for a 15-yard gain. On the next play, though, he tried to force another pass to Harris and it was intercepted by Omar Brown.

Strong took his two remaining timeouts as Marshall ran out the remaining clock.

"I wanted it to burn a little bit," Strong said. The Cards mustered just 281 yards of total offense, while allowing 353.

"It's a bad loss," said Davis, who had three catches for 32 yards. "I just feel like we didn't prepare as good as we should have this week against Marshall.

"We just have to keep our heads up, keep striving forward. We have to practice harder and we have to prepare harder. We just have to come out and play."

The Cards play at North Carolina at noon next Saturday.

"We need to get back to work and continue to try to build off of this, and continue to become a better team," said Chichester, who had three catches for 62 yards. "This is definitely a wake-up call for everyone. We know we are a better team, it just didn't show tonight. We know we have to prepare for next week."

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