It set up his five-yard run for a 7-0 Cardinal lead.
West Virginia returned the favor late in the fourth quarter. WVU had pulled within 24-14 on a 13-play, 66-yard drive that culminated in Steve Slaton's four-yard run with 8:18 left.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez called for kicker Pat McAfee to spike the ball downward on the kickoff, causing a huge bounce. The true freshman, who nailed five PATs in addition to the ensuing 28-yard field goal, hit the ball perfectly.
The bounce allowed WVU blockers to rip into a Louisville up-man, clearing him out of contention for the ball. Enter Thadi Smith, the reserve defensive back who blocked a punt against Rutgers and recovered the ball for a touchdown to spark WVU's win there.
The senior jumped on the ball, giving West Virginia's formerly anemic offense life. It took Smith's jumpstart and scored on its final six possessions, three in overtime, allowing WVU's defense numerous chances to stop the Cardinals.
The first score was McAfee's field goal that brought the Mountaineers to within 24-17 and setup a final defensive stand and offensive drive to tie the game and force a triple-overtime classic.
Petrino's surprise turned to steam by the end of the four-hour-plus game, as the coach accused the officials of missing a call on the onside kick. He claimed that his player should have had clear access to the bouncing ball.
But WVU blocked the player, who never called for a fair catch on the kick. Because he did not do that, players have the ability to hit him as if he were a blocker.
Louisville, now 4-2 overall and 0-2 in the Big East, will likely fall off the national radar, while West Virginia will climb into the Top 25. The Mountaineers (6-1, 3-0 Big East) are now the only unbeaten team in league play and completely control their own BCS destiny.