It took a handful of heroic moments by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to pull out the win in the University of Louisville's Thursday night victory over Cincinnati, but equally important was the spark provided by the Cardinal rushing attack.
The team's two backs, Dominique Brown and Senorise Perry, combined to rush for 81 yards in the third and fourth quarters. But it was the Cardinals' ability to pound the ball that would eventually win them the game.
In overtime, Brown carried the Cardinals. Of the six plays Louisville ran in the extra period, five were Brown runs. The junior picked up 22 yards on those five attempts, en route to what would be the game's deciding score.
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said after the game that the running game fit perfectly with the more pass-oriented attack the team employed in the second half, and noted that the offensive line allowed for that effectiveness.
"Our offensive line, tight ends, they did a great job," Watson said. "We felt like that style of run-game was going to be good for us at halftime, with us spreading them out more."
The offensive line blocked well despite losing starting guard Kamran Joyer in the first half to a leg injury. Chris Acosta, a redshirt junior who has started several games this season, filled the void for the Cardinals.
Although Brown was called upon to bring the Cardinals home in overtime, the extra punch provided by Perry also made a difference. The senior was the game's leading rusher, racking up 81 yards on 16 attempts.
Brown said after the game that the two-back rotation, which has been used most of the season, was at its most effective on Thursday night.
"It was great," Brown said of having two backs be able to run effectively in the same game. "It keeps a defensive coordinator guessing. I specialize in downhill, and Senorise is a more elusive, fast guy."
"It keeps them guessing when you've got a two-man rotation like we've got. It's great."