The Virginia defense entered Saturday afternoon's game having given up just 20 points in two games, but it would face its toughest challenge of the young season against Louisville offense that ranked 11th in the nation average 48.5 points an outing.
The Cardinals received the opening kick and promptly marched down the field. Dominique Brown and L.J. Scott combined for 29 yards rushing on 4 carries – all to the left side. Gardner was 3 for 3 for 40 yards on the drive.
Facing a 4th and 1 at the Virginia 9 yard line, Bobby Petrino kept the offense on the field. Setting up in I-formation, Gardner dropped back, faked the handoff to Scott who plunged into the line of scrimmage, and then found freshman tight end Charles Standberry in the end zone.
The score kept U of L perfect in the red zone, now 14 of 14 on the season.
Virginia opened it's first offensive series with a 5-yard pass from Greyson Lambert to Miles Gooch. Threatening to even the score on their first drive, U of L defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins recovered a fumble at the Cardinals 35 yard line to end the threat.
Facing a 2nd & 10 at its own 20 yard line, Will Gardner's pass intercepted by Anthony Harris, setting up the hosts inside the red zone.
Three plays later, Lambert found Gooch again for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Following a Will Garnder fumble at the Louisville 19 yard line, Virginia was poised to take it's first lead of the game.
The Cavaliers had 3rd and 3 at the Louisville 10 yard line, when safety Gerod Holliman read a Matt Jones pass attempt and snagged his first of two interceptions in the game to end the scoring threat.
The Cardinals, who struggled to gain favorable field position all day, would take over at their own 1 yard line.
The momentum that U of L gained following the Holliman interception was short-lived.
Beginning their drive 99 yards from the end zone, the Cardinals moved the ball out to their own 25, highlighted by a 23-yard pass from Gardner to Kai De La Cruz for 23-yards.
Facing a 3rd & 6, Will Gardner's next pass attempt was intercepted by Virginia cornerback Maurice Canady at the Cardinals 38 yard line and promptly returned the momentum back in the Cavaliers favor.
The Virginia offense managed just 20 yards on 6 plays, but it was enough for kicker Ian Frye, who connected for a 35-yard field goal to give his team a 3-point advantage with under a minute remaining in the first half.
Virginia 10 Louisville 7
First Half Notes**Louisville outgained Virginia 191-144 during the opening half.
**Both teams had three turnovers.
**U of L was 1 of 7 on third down conversions, while UVA was 2 for 8.
**U of L had 4 penalties for 35 yards; UVA 1 for 5
UVA Opening Drive
The Cardinals defense allowed just one significant drive all game and it came on the opening series of the second half.
Holding a 3 point half time lead, the Cavaliers drove 69 yards on 9 plays, capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Lambert. The highlight of the drive was a 31-yard pass from Lambert to Darius Jennings that moved the ball to the U of L 25.
Virginia 17 Louisville 7
After forcing the Cardinals to punt from the end zone, Virginia had excellent field position once again. However, as was the case most of the afternoon, the Louisville defense held the Hoos in check, allowing UVA just 7 yards on 5 plays.
Once again, it was close enough for UVA kicker Ian Frye, who booted a 47-yard attempt with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Virginia 20 Louisville 7
After being replaced by Reggie Bonnafon at the end of the first half and for the entire third quarter, Will Gardner returned to lead the Cardinals to begin the final 15 minutes.
Beginning the quarter at the Virginia 44 yard line, Gardner managed a 8 play scoring drive. The sophomore completed 4 of 6 for 44 yards, highlighted by a 28-yard connection with tight end Keith Towbridge.
On 3rd and 4 from the UVA 6-yard line, Dominique Brown took a hand off up the middle for a 6 yard touchdown.
The scoring drive was 8 plays for 56 yards while using only 2:49 of the game clock.
Virginia 20 Louisville 14
The Cardinals gained momentum following their first score since the opening drive. The defense forced a 3 and out, with a sack by freshman cornerback Trumaine Washington to force the punt.
Gardner returned to the field again and again, led the offense on a scoring drive. He threw for 30 yards on the 9 plays, 52 yards touchdown drive, finishing it with a 4 yard strike to James Quick. The score gave the Cardinals the lead with 6:59 to play in the game.
Louisville 21 Virginia 20
Louisville appeared to in on the path to victory following the go-ahead touchdown. The U of L defense forced a punt and the offense was in position to 'run to win' in the games final minutes.
Then the punt happened. It was a shorter than usual kick by Alec Vozenilek, drawing returner James Quick close to his blockers. As the ball arrived, Quick and Michaelee Harris collided and caused a fumble on the catch. Virginia recovered and given new life.
While the U of L defense wouldn't give up a yard, 0 yards on 4 plays, it set up Fyre for his third field goal of the afternoon. He connected on a 42-yard attempt with 3:42 left to play.
FINAL: Virginia 23 Louisville 21
Additional Game Notes**The loss ended the Cardinals eight game winning streak, which was the second longest in the nation.
**James Quick recorded a career high 5 catches for 34 yards, including his first career receiving score.
**Will Gardner finished 14 of 32 for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.
**The U of L QB's were sacked 3 times.
**Holliman now has a team best 3 interceptions on the season.
**Sophomore linebacker Keith Kelsey led the Cardinals with 11 tackles, including a sack.
**Safety James Sample continued to play well, totaling 6 tackles and registering 3 pass break ups.