There's rarely, or never, just a single play that costs a team a victory. Instead, a number of factors throughout the contest are the true cause and effect of the outcome, but often, the final play, successful or not, is typically the one that sticks in the minds of observers.
Meeting with the media for the first time since his team fell 42-36 at Clemson on Oct. 1, No. 7 Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said they "blew an opportunity" on that Saturday night at Death Valley.
Trailing the host Tigers by six, with the ball and nearly three minutes to play, Petrino was confident his team would come out the victors.
"I did feel like when we had the ball at the end of the game we would go score and win the game," said Petrino. "Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done."
Louisville's final drive began at its own 25-yard line and marched into the red zone before slowing down. Following a false start that set-up a fourth and 12 possession, Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson found James Quick cutting across the middle of the field. Quick darted towards the sideline, getting knocked out by Marcus Edmond a yard shy of the needed first down marker.
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Immediately some questioned Quick's decision-making in such a bang-bang moment. The Cardinals needed to reach the two-yard line, Quick appeared confident when stepping out at the three. Others, including Jackson, questioned the placement, or lack thereof, of the first-down marker.
"It's one of those things were I called him in and I said, 'I wish you would have got the first down or the touchdown,'" Petrino explained, adding that he counseled his senior receiver to ignore those that may cast blame for the loss on him.
"They are the people who don’t know victory or defeat," he said. "Don’t worry about it and just know that I love you and you will come back and get another opportunity to make the play again and just compete as hard as you possibly can and do it."
Petrino also reiterated his belief that Quick's decision was based upon the yard-marker placement.
"I don't think it was an effort thing," said Petrino. "I'm not sure that he knew exactly where he needed to go."
The Cardinals head coach further expressed his disappointment in how the home-assigned chain crew managed the markers in that crucial ACC meeting.
"I don't that it should be marked at one place when they have the ball and one place when we have the ball."
Following their week off, the Cardinals return to action on Friday night when they host ACC foe Duke at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.