Brown has a lasting memory on Senior Day

University of Louisville senior linebacker Preston Brown had nine tackles and scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery as the Cardinals downed Memphis 24-17.

Playing with a heavy heart, senior linebacker Preston Brown made the most out his last home game with the University of Louisville football program on Saturday.

Brown led the Cardinal defense with nine tackles in the 24-17 win over Memphis, but the highlight of the day was his 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound linebacker said after the game that the play, which gave the Cardinals a 7-0 first quarter lead, was reminiscent of his high school days at Cincinnati's Northwest High, where he also played running back.

"Sheldon (Rankins) made a great play with the sack-strip, so the ball just rolled right to me," Brown said. "I didn't see anybody looking at me, so I just took off.

"Then I saw the running back square-up, so I looked for some help and I saw my linebacker buddy George Durant coming backside, so I read my block like I was a running back in high school."

The seniors noted that the pregame festivities were emotional, but even more so for Brown, whose grandfather passed away Saturday morning after a nearly year-long battle with cancer.

"It was a pretty emotional morning," Brown said. "It was great to get the touchdown for my grandpa. I had a great time putting on a show for him.

"I had a little more pep in my step knowing that he was up there watching me."

The outstanding performance in the win over Memphis is the last time Cardinal fans will see Brown, a three-year starter who has tallied 286 tackles in his career, take the field at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

Fellow senior Brandon Dunn says that Brown is a big reason for the program's recent success, and was happy to see him cap his home career with a top-notch performance.

"He's a great teammate, a great friend," Dunn said. "He does what a leader is supposed to do, and to see him get that touchdown was just the icing on the cake."

U of L head coach Charlie Strong echoed that sentiment, stating after that game that it was great to see him score, "just because of all he has done for the team."

Brown will return to his hometown for his last regular season game as a Cardinal, when the team travels to Cincinnati on Dec. 5.

The linebacker joked that he will probably see more familiar faces in the stands when the Cards take on the Bearcats in two weeks, but also said he enjoyed walking through the tunnel one last time.

"It was really exciting to know that I'm going out there with my brothers that I came in with in 2010. It was exciting to see everybody with their families out there on the field," Brown said.

"It was exciting to go out and get recognized by the crowd. It was a great feeling."

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