Cards fall just short, 31-28

In a game that lived up to every bit of the hype, #25 Louisville fell 31-28 at #12 TCU on Friday night.

Behind sophomore quarterback Stefan LeFors career high 459-yards passing, the Cardinals continually fought back each time that the host TCU Horned Frogs built a lead. However, in the end, Louisville literally fell short of their last attempt to tie the game when a 44-yard Nate Smith field goal hit the crossbar, giving TCU a 31-28 victory.

Following a promising opening drive by the Cardinals, which eventually ended just outside of field goal range, TCU's offense drove 88 yards giving them an early first quarter 7-0 lead.

On it's next possession, Louisville utilized a balanced offensive attack to drive 68 yards. Nate Smith converted a 21-yard field goal attempt to pull U of L with 7-3.

During that drive Louisville running back Eric Shelton was injured on a 5-yard run to the TCU 17 yard line when he connected head on with TCU defensive back Tyrone Sanders. Shelton laid motionless for a few moments before walking off the field under his own power and went to the locker room for x-rays, which turned out negative. He returned to the sidelines during the first half.

TCU didn't waste anytime on their next possession, marching 74 yards on just five plays to increase it's lead to 14-3.

The two teams then combined for an additional 17 total points during the second quarter. Louisville running back Lionel Gates scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and Nate Smith connected on a 26-yard field goal, which pulled the Cardinals within 13-21 at halftime.

Gates, playing in the place of the injured Shelton, rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries. The junior also led the Cardinals with nine receptions for 134 yards.

After forcing TCU to punt on the opening drive of the third quarter, Louisville tied the score at 21 when tight end Ronnie Ghent pulled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from LeFors. LeFors then connected with freshman Kolby Smith to convert a two-point conversion.

LeFors completed 67% of his pass attempts, while also rushing for an additional 34 yards.

Trailing 24-21, Louisville once again had an opportunity to even the score, but senior kicker Nate Smith uncharacteristically missed a 22-yard field goal attempt.

Louisville added a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter when LeFors executed a fake field goal and rushed nine yards for the score.


Nate Smith watches his last
attempt fall short
 (AP)
Nate Smith, who had missed just one field goal this season, then failed to convert two field goal attempts late in the game, both of which were over 40 yards. His 44-yard attempt on the last play of regulation fell just short, bouncing off the crossbar.

"I'll tell Nate to keep his head up," said U of L Head Coach Bobby Petrino. "He's not the first person to miss three field goals in a game. He's a very good kicker and provides a lot to this football team. In no way was this loss all his fault."

Louisville outgained TCU by 119 yards, but had 120 penalty yards to TCU's 55 yards.

Defensively, Louisville was led by defensive end Marcus Jones' 10 tackles, four of which were for a loss. Linebackers Rod Day and Robert McCune both recorded 8 tackles.

"This was a very good football game," said Petrino. "It was just two good teams playing extremely hard. [There were] lots of players on offense and defense making plays. I can't say too much about how good TCU is. We just came up short."

The Cardinals will return to action on November 15 when they host rival Memphis at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

STATISTICS


Team Statistics

                                    LOU      TCU

FIRST DOWNS...................       29       28
  Rushing.....................        6       10
  Passing.....................       21       14
  Penalty.....................        2        4
Rushing Attempts..............       32       46
Yards Gained Rushing..........      149      223
Yards Lost Rushing............       28       13
NET YARDS RUSHING.............      121      210
NET YARDS PASSING.............      459      251
  Passes Attempted............       50       28
  Passes Completed............       31       17
  Had Intercepted.............        0        0
TOTAL OFFENSIVE PLAYS.........       82       74
TOTAL NET YARDS...............      580      461
  Average Gain Per Play.......      7.1      6.2
Fumbles: Number-Lost..........      0-0      0-0
Penalties: Number-Yards.......   15-120     6-55
Number of Punts-Yards.........    3-105    4-154
  Average Per Punt............     35.0     38.5
Punt Returns: Number-Yards....      1-1      0-0
Kickoff Returns: Number-Yards.    6-121     3-46
Interceptions: Number-Yards...      0-0      0-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yards..      0-0      0-0
Miscellaneous Yards...........        0        0
Possession Time...............    30:23    29:37
Third-Down Conversions........  8 of 17  4 of 11
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   2 of 2   1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      5-7      3-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........      0-0     1-13

Individual Statistics

Louisville

Rushing         No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
--------------------------------------------
GATES, Lionel   15   59    5   54  1 13  3.6
LeFORS, Stefan   8   47   13   34  1 19  4.2
SMITH, Kolby     1   20    0   20  0 20 20.0
SHELTON, Eric    4   16    0   16  0  8  4.0
BUSH, Michael    4    7   10   -3  0  6 -0.8
Totals...       32  149   28  121  2 20  3.8

Passing         Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
--------------------------------------------
LeFORS, Stefan    46-31-0   459  1   47    1
TEAM               3-0-0      0  0    0    0
BUSH, Michael      1-0-0      0  0    0    0
Totals...         50-31-0   459  1   47    1

Receiving        No.  Yds   TD Long
-----------------------------------
GATES, Lionel      9  134    0   47
RUSSELL, J.R.      8  119    0   37
GHENT, Ronnie      7   98    1   24
CLARK, B.          3   52    0   30
BUSH, Michael      3   27    0   25
HASKINS, Robert    1   29    0   29
Totals...         31  459    1   47

Punting          No.  Yds   Avg Long In20
-----------------------------------------
MOODY, Brent       3  105  35.0   36    2
Totals...          3  105  35.0   36    2

                  Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns     No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
---------------------------------------------
CLARK, B.        0   0  0  6 121 33  0   0  0
HASKINS, Robert  1   1  1  0   0  0  0   0  0
Totals...        1   1  1  6 121 33  0   0  0

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
SMITH, Nate     1st 03:58  21 yds - Good
SMITH, Nate     2nd 00:00  26 yds - Good
SMITH, Nate     3rd 01:29  22 yds - Missed
SMITH, Nate     4th 02:36  47 yds - Missed
SMITH, Nate     4th 00:00  44 yds - Missed

TCU

Rushing         No Gain Loss  Net TD Lg  Avg
--------------------------------------------
Merrill, Robert 17   83    9   74  0 18  4.4
HASSELL, B.     11   64    3   61  1 16  5.5
Hobbs, Lonta    14   59    0   59  0 23  4.2
DEPRIEST, M.     1    9    0    9  0  9  9.0
Rodgers, Cory    1    7    0    7  1  7  7.0
Hayter, Kenny    2    1    1    0  1  1  0.0
Totals...       46  223   13  210  3 23  4.6

Passing         Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sack
--------------------------------------------
HASSELL, B.       27-17-0   251  1   30    0
Harrell, Reggie    1-0-0      0  0    0    0
Totals...         28-17-0   251  1   30    0

Receiving        No.  Yds   TD Long
-----------------------------------
Harrell, Reggie    8  128    0   28
Rodgers, Cory      4   35    0   12
HARMON, Q.         2   48    1   30
Hobbs, Lonta       1   16    0   16
Galbert, Bruce     1   12    0   12
Merrill, Robert    1   12    0   12
Totals...         17  251    1   30

Punting          No.  Yds   Avg Long In20
-----------------------------------------
Braziel, John      4  154  38.5   45    1
Totals...          4  154  38.5   45    1

                  Punts   Kickoffs  Intercept
All Returns     No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg No.Yds.Lg
---------------------------------------------
Rodgers, Cory    0   0  0  3  46 21  0   0  0
Totals...        0   0  0  3  46 21  0   0  0

Field goal attempts
----------------------------------------
Browne, Nick    3rd 05:18  44 yds - Good

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