In what head coach Bobby Petrino called its most complete game of the season, the University of Louisville football team was sharp in all three phases and wore out Syracuse 41-17 on Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals amassed a season-high 579 total yards of offense, had 217 yards rushing and the defense forced three turnovers - including a Trumaine Washington pick six to give the Cardinals a huge boost.
Louisville has now won five of its last six games since starting the season at 0-3. The Cardinals are 5-4 and 4-2 in ACC play with the home finale next Saturdat at 12:30 p.m. against Virginia.
Here's a few quick-hits from the victory:
MVP - Trumaine Washington
It could have easily been several players, but Washington was sensational for the defense.
The sophomore led the team with a career-high 12 tackles, had one sack, four tackles for a loss and scored on a 39-yard interception return to give the Cardinals a 14-10 lead in the second quarter.
Washington now has an interception in two consecutive games and leads the Cardinals with four on the season. It was the first interception return for a touchdown since last season when Gerod Holliman did it against Florida International.
"He does a great job of studying film," Petrino said. "He knew he had a hard days work. They do a lot of stuff to the short side of the field. . . . So he knew it was going to be a big game for him and he came out and produced."
Play of the Game
It has to be Washington's pick six.
Louisville scored on the opening drive of the game but then Kyle Bolin threw an interception and the offense was stalled a bit. The Orange led 10-7 and were driving when Washington stepped up.
Freshman QB Eric Dungey threw to the right side of the field and Washington jumped the route.
"It was great to see him have the confidence to jump it and go make the play," Petrino said.
Bolin's turn at QB
It was Kyle Bolin's turn at quarterback and he answered the call.
The Lexington, Ky., native got the start with Lamar Jackson (ankle) still hampered by his injury and Reggie Bonnafon (concussion) not dressed because of his injury.
Bolin made his third career start and had his third career 300-yard game. He was 24 of 35 for 362 yards and three touchdowns with interception. He completed passes to eight different receivers.
Petrino said after the game he expects Bolin to start against Virginia.
Stat of the Game
Louisville had its highest output of offense - 579 total yards - of the season but was just 1 of 9 omn third-down.
The Cardinals rushed 31 times for 217 yards and threw for 362 yards in the victory.
The last time U of L had more yards was last season when the Cardinals put 603 yards up against Murray State. It's the most points the Cardinals have scored in two years of playing in the ACC.
It was a career day for Cole Hikutini.
The junior-college transfer tight end had three catches for 28 yards and two touchdowns. He hauled in TD passes of 10 and 13 yards from Bolin.
The staff had high expectations for Hikutini heading into the season but he injured his shoulder in the opener and missed the next two weeks. He had just six catches for 93 yards coming into the game.
What we learned
The Cardinals do still have an offense that can get going.
There were a few mistakes but not as many as in the past few weeks and once the offense started rolling it looked sharp.
With Bolin making a few throws down the field, the running game opened up and the line did a nice job. Freshman Kenny Thomas didn't play because of an injury but Aaron Epps stepped back in and did a nice job.
Syracuse isn't the best team the Cardinals have faced, but this was a win they needed.
Louisville will host Virginia on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and one more wins guarantees the Cardinals a bowl bid.