Crystal Ball 2005 - Louisville

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. – Facing the nation's leading offense for the first time as a member of the Big East conference, West Virginia fell to the visiting Cardinals from the University of Louisville on Saturday before 64,004 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium by the score of 47-37.

Brian Brohm, last season's Conference USA Freshman of the Year and the nation's third-ranked passer in 2005, completed 33 of 49 passes to eight different receivers for 377 yards and four touchdowns. Junior tailbacks Michael Bush and Kolby Smith each tallied a rushing touchdown to support the Cardinal offensive attack. Louisville, which set an NCAA record in 2004 by scoring 50 or more points in five consecutive games, won their sixth straight game and 14th in a row, including last season's Liberty Bowl victory over Boise State. The Cardinals amassed 507 yards of total offense versus West Virginia's 424 and rolled up 38 first downs to the Mountaineers' 24.

Jason Gwaltney led West Virginia's offense with 141 rushing yards and one touchdown. Adam Bednarik completed one touchdown pass but suffered two costly interceptions. Back-up quarterback Patrick White rushed for one score and threw for another as West Virginia changed quarterbacks in the second half. The game was relatively penalty free, as West Virginia was penalized just 45 yards and Louisville's 35.

The Cardinals' offense began the game in high gear as Louisville won the toss and asked for the ball first. Brohm engineered a 9-play, 71-yard touchdown drive to open the game, connecting with each of Louisville's trio of senior wideouts – Montrell Jones, Joshua Tinch and Broderick Clark for 57 of the 71 yards. From the West Virginia six, Brohm hit tight end Gary Barnidge for his first scoring strike of the day and Louisville led 6-0. However, West Virginia's Mortty Ivy blocked Art Carmody's extra point attempt, stopping Carmody's NCAA record of consecutive made PATs at 116.

West Virginia took the ensuing kick-off and demonstrated a passing attack of its own. Picking on Louisville's redshirt freshmen cornerback duo of Marcus Folmer and Rod Council, Bednarik went deep to Rayshawn Bolden for a gain of 33 yards after a pair of Gwaltney rushes for 11 yards to start the drive. From the UL 28, Bednarik again went deep, this time hitting freshman Darius Reynaud in the back of the end zone for his fifth touchdown pass of the season. WVU led 7-6 after converting the point-after.

Louisville answered immediately with another touchdown drive – a 10-play, 68-yard march. Brohm stayed in the air, hitting Jones and Tinch for gains of 16 and 14 yards, respectively, and tailback Kolby Smith broke loose for a pick-up of 15 more. From the WVU 23, Brohm hit Clark who went out of bounds at the 2-yard line. Smith went over two plays later and Louisville re-took the lead for good at 13-7 with 4:13 remaining in the first quarter.

West Virginia's offense sputtered on its next possession and the Mountaineers punted to Council, who returned the punt from the UL 24 to the WVU 47, setting up Louisville's third straight scoring drive. The Cardinals mixed the run and the pass to move to the WVU 14. The Mountaineer defense then stood its ground and Carmody came on to boot a 31-yard field goal as UL extended its lead to 16-7.

West Virginia again went to the air on the next possession and began moving the ball. Bednarik completed passes to Reynaud, Brandon Myles and Vaughn Rivers in moving from the WVU 28 to the UL 35. A Gwaltney gallop of 14 to the 21-yard line followed, but then disaster struck the Mountaineers. Bednarik's pass attempted for Bolden was picked off by Louisville safety Brandon Sharp in the end zone to end West Virginia's drive abruptly.

The Cardinals capitalized on the turnover by embarking on a 12-play, 80-yard drive to take a commanding 23-7 lead. Brohm again found open targets, hitting Clark, Tinch and sophomores Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia for completions. Supported with solid running by Bush, Louisville moved to the Mountaineer eight-yard line. From there Brohm hit Jones for his second touchdown toss of the day and Louisville led by 16 with 9:14 remaining before halftime.

Needing a big play to get back into the game, West Virginia's special teams delivered, as Antonio Lewis took Carmody's kick-off at the WVU five-yard line. Following blockers down the Louisville sideline, Lewis ran the kick-off all the way to the Cardinals' four before being knocked out of bounds. The return re-energized the Mountaineer Field faithful, and two plays later the level went even higher when Pernell Williams crossed the goal line behind a punishing block by fullback Owen Schmitt on UL linebacker Abe Brown to cut the deficit to nine.

Louisville took the ensuing kick-off and for the first time on the day the WVU defense held the Cardinals on three downs and forced a UL punt. Taking over at its own 33, West Virginia shunned the pass and went back to its powerful ground game. Gwaltney and Williams took turns carrying the ball, interrupted by a completed pass to slotback Jason Colson, as the Mountaineers moved to the UL 21-yard line. The Cardinals defense thwarted any further advances by the Mountaineers and Pat McAfee converted the 38-yard field goal attempt with 2:02 remaining before halftime as West Virginia crept to within six at 23-17.

Brohm then led UL on its two-minute offense, completing passes to Bush, Clark, Tinch and Jones while scrambling himself for a pick-up of nine yards as the Cardinals moved to the WVU 17. With 0:04 left before the half, Carmody converted a 34-yard field goal to put the visitors back in front by nine at 26-17.

The offense-laden first half produced plenty of notable numbers. Brohm completed 21 of 28 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns as UL amassed 255 yards and 19 first downs. WVU recorded 175 yards and 11 first downs.

West Virginia received the second half kick-off and committed a costly turnover shortly thereafter. After Gwaltney picked up 21 yards on three carries, Bednarik's pass intended for Rivers was picked off by Terrence Butler at the UL 40-yard line and returned to the WVU 38. From there, Brohm completed passes to Clark for 24 yards and to Barnidge for 11, putting the Cards on the doorstep at the WVU three. Two plays later Bush went over the goal line from a yard out and Louisville went up 33-17.

Redshirt freshman Pat White replaced Bednarik at quarterback as West Virginia tried to play a more controlled style of offense and keep the UL offense off the field. The strategy paid off as West Virginia put together a 14-play, 79-yard touchdown drive. Converting four straight third down situations, the Mountaineers chewed 6:54 off the clock, with Gwaltney, Williams and White the ball carriers on the drive. On second and goal from the five, White faked to Gwaltney and scampered around the right side of the Louisville line and dove for the pylon, bringing WVU to within 33-24 with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter.

Each team then failed to move the ball as the third quarter ended with Louisville maintaining its nine-point lead. Starting the fourth quarter, UL put together its fifth touchdown drive of the day. Brohm continued to find open receivers, with completions of 15 yards to Jones, six yards to back-up tight end Scott Kuhne, Tinch for 14, Jones again for 11 and Clark for 12. From the WVU four, Brohm hit Kuhne for his third touchdown pass of the day as Louisville took an imposing 40-24 lead over the Mountaineers.

West Virginia answered Louisville's score with a sudden strike. After Rivers returned the kick-off to the WVU 45-yard line, Gwaltney burst over the Louisville line and romped 52 yards to bring WVU to within nine again at 40-31 with 9:18 remaining in the contest. West Virginia then attempted an onside kick, but UL recovered at the WVU 48. Displaying no conservatism, Brohm confidently went to the air again and found Douglas for a gain of 17, then Bush out of the backfield for seven more yards. Brohm then hit Tinch for 14 yards on third down to the WVU 9-yard line. On first down, WVU linebacker Marc Magro collared Brohm for WVU's only sack of the day, creating second and goal from the 19. Brohm was again pressured but escaped and scrambled to the WVU 13-yard line. On third and goal with 6:32 left Brohm put a dagger through the Mountaineers' hearts by finding Jones in the corner of the end zone for an insurmountable 47-31 Louisville lead.

West Virginia tried to move the ball quickly by passing the ball but ran out of downs. Hunter Cantwell replaced Brohm and Louisville ran the clock down to 2:02 before giving the ball back to West Virginia. Refusing to give up, West Virginia moved the ball into UL territory and, with 0:26 left, White found Travis McClintic in the end zone from 21 yards out and the final points in a 47-37 Cardinals win, as WVU's two-point conversion attempt failed, as did the last gasp onside kick that was recovered by Louisville.

"We just didn't have any answers for Brohm," lamented a dejected Mountaineer mentor Rich Rodriguez following the game. "We didn't get nearly enough pressure on him and when you give a great quarterback all day to throw you're usually going to pay dearly for it and we certainly did. He's a terrific quarterback, no question about it, but he's got some great tools to work with, too. I thought their receivers ran good routes and their line did a great job on us."

"We thought we could throw on them a little bit on the outside and that maybe that would open up the running lanes some," said Rodriguez about the Mountaineers' game plan. "We had some success with that but not nearly enough." Asked about the two key interceptions, Rodriguez replied, "They were just a couple of excellent reads by their guys. Adam's throws were where they were supposed to be but Louisville just made a couple of big plays. We didn't take Adam out because of those [interceptions]; we wanted to try to maximize our running capabilities and keep the ball away from them. Patrick gives us a little more of a running threat behind center and we decided to give that a try."

"I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Louisville in the BCS championship game," said Rodriguez. "They're every bit as good as advertised – a legitimate Top Ten team, no question about it." "We played a very good team with absolutely rabid fans here tonight and I'm really proud of the effort our guys put forth in this type of environment," said Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino afterward. "Brian did a great job hitting our targets, but one big reason we were successful tonight was the play of our offensive line. I thought they played outstanding tonight against a very good defensive team."

"I think West Virginia will be a real challenge for us for years to come. I can see this becoming a great rivalry. Our fans can come here pretty easily and vice versa, so it looks to have the makings of a big game every year on our calendar and theirs," said Petrino about forthcoming match-ups with WVU in Big East play. "We know that to win the Big East each year we'll have to beat West Virginia, because they're a very well-coached team with a great tradition."

Louisville improved to 2-5 all-time against West Virginia and will move up in the rankings following losses by USC and Michigan on Saturday. West Virginia (4-3, 1-2) travels to the Sunshine State to face the Bulls of South Florida next Saturday while Louisville (6-0, 1-0) hosts Cincinnati at Papa John's Stadium.

PASSING – WVA – Bednarik 10-20-127-1-2 White 5-9-64-1-0 TOTALS 15-29-191-2-2 UL – Brohm 33-49-377-4-0 Cantwell 1-1-8-0-0 TOTALS 34-50-385-4-0

RUSHING – WVA – Gwaltney 21-141-1 Williams 8-46-1 Colson 3-10 Bednarik 2-10 White 5-26-1 TOTALS 39-233-3 UL – Bush 14-68-1 Smith 10-39-1 Bradshaw 2-9 Taylor 2-6 TOTALS 28-122-2

RECEIVING – WVA – Bolden 3-54 Myles 2-18 Rivers 3-19 Hunter 1-8 Reynaud 2-41-1 Thompson 1-11 McClintic 1-21-1 Colson 2-19 TOTALS 15-191-2 UL – Jones 9-118-2 Tinch 6-90 Clark 5-72 Douglas 5-52 Urrutia 2-13 Barnidge 2-15-1 Kuhne 2-10-1 Bush 3-15 TOTALS 34-50-385-4

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this article are intended for entertainment purposes only. No criticism, direct or implied, is intended. The author assumes no responsibility for any errors or inconsistencies and has produced the series strictly for the enjoyment of Mountaineer football fans during the agonizing summer months without WVU football.

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