Louisville had hopes of extending its winning streak to five on Saturday afternoon at Pittsburgh, but the host Panthers controlled the time of possession throughout and used a big second quarter to defeat the Cardinals 45-34.
After building a 10-7 first quarter lead, the Cardinals defense was blitzed during the second period as Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman tossed four touchdown passes and cornerback Avonte Maddox returned an interception for another to build a 42-24 halftime advantage.
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino didn't hesitate to credit Pittsburgh after his team dropped to 6-5 overall and 5-3 in ACC play.
"We just flat [out] got beat," he said. "You have to take your hat off to their offense and their defense, but mainly their offense. They did a great job of executing and I think they had the ball 37 minutes in the game? We had it 22 minutes. You can’t give up that many long, big drives and have your offense standing on the sidelines. That really hurt us. Offensively, we were able to make some big plays and score fast a few times but there wasn’t the type of consistency you need to come back when you’re behind. We did get it within eight [points], we thought we had a chance to go score, and go for two—but we weren’t able to execute, especially on that fourth down."
Pittsburgh's offense recorded 476 yards, while the Panthers defense held Louisville to -1 yards on the ground and only allowed the Cardinals to convert 3 of 13 third down conversion attempts.
Cardinals starting quarterback Kyle Bolin was 10-of-20 for 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns,but was lifted following his interception for Lamar Jackson during the second quarter and facing a 42-17 deficit.
“We weren’t executing and we threw a pick for a touchdown when our focus should have been on the other side of the field," Petrino explained. "We felt like it was time to make a change and get in there. We did get another nice touchdown right before half with a couple big plays, with a nice throw and catch which we needed. It gave us an opportunity"
Up next for Louisville is a visit to rival Kentucky for the annual Battle for the Governors Cup on Saturday, November 28.
- Wide receiver Jamari Staples had nine catches for a career-best 194 yards, tied for the sixth most receiving yards in a single game in Louisville history equaling the total accomplished three previous times, the most recent of which was in 2000 by Deion Branch.
- Jackson threw his team-leading ninth touchdown of the season finding Staples for a 49-yard score just before halftime.
- Jackson also ran for his team-high seventh rushing touchdown, a two-yard score in the fourth quarter.
- Wide receiver Traveon Samuel caught his first career touchdown reception on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from Kyle Bolin.