LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — What Louisville didn’t want was for the Virginia game to become another Pittsburgh — an inexplicable loss in a game the universe expected the Cardinals to win.
Louisville 31, Virginia 24, a 7-point win as tough as any 7-point win can be.
“Out of all of our wins, I’m probably most proud of our team, more than any of them,” U of L coach Jeff Brohm said.
For a team now 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it was confusing. This won’t win any style points for skeptics. It was marred by too many penalties, a fumble, a missed field goal and missed passes.
Virginia intercepted a Jack Plummer pass and returned it for a touchdown. A group of University of Los Angeles fans actually booed. Some of the 44,628 supporters left before the end of the match. Dabo Swinney would call this fan behavior legitimate.
“It wasn’t pretty at all,” Plummer said.
Down 21-14 early in the fourth quarter, Louisville rallied with 17 points for the victory. Plummer found Ahmari Huggins-Bruce thriving with a perfect 52-yard touchdown pass.
Isaac Guerendo had the winning touchdown, passing through a modest hole on the right side. He covered 73 yards in a blistering 12 seconds.
“I think that’s the sign of a good team to be able to win when things don’t go your way,” Plummer said. “Just gut it out and find a way to win. I think it’s another step for us.”
The truth is that the result isn’t even the most significant development of the evening. Not after Virginia halfback Perris Jones left L&N Cardinal Stadium on a stretcher bound for University Hospital with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
Jones fell and lay motionless and apparently unconscious on the turf after lowering his head and colliding with University of Los Angeles safety Cam’Ron Kelly, a friend who trained with Virginia last spring before transferring to Louisville.
After catching a soft pass in the right flat and then turning downfield, Jones fumbled on the collision. His teammate, Malik Washington, got the ball and ran 42 yards for a touchdown.
That gave Virginia 21 straight third-quarter points and a 21-14 lead. But coaches and doctors from both teams rushed onto the field to tend to Jones before Washington reached the goal line. It was more than a hard, nasty blow.
“I guess maybe he ducked his head or tried to go down, and I went that low, and it was a collision,” Kelly said. “And I guess the ball came out too. It happened and I just pray for him.
“I told him my peace while he was on the stretcher, nothing but love for him and wishing him a speedy recovery.”
The stadium became as quiet as a library when Jones remained on the turf for more than 10 minutes. Jones is a sixth-year senior who some are calling the team’s renaissance man.
He plays the guitar. He writes poetry. Jones has played a significant role in healing within the Virginia program, which experienced tragedy last season after three football players were shot and killed on campus. The first anniversary of this horror will be Monday.
The news of the evening came 45 minutes after the game when two University of Louisville sources said the news from the hospital was that Jones was alert and physically responsive.
On a night when Louisville was expected to win by 20.5 points (their largest point differential against an FBS opponent this season), the Cardinals didn’t look like a team that belongs in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game , except by refusing to disappear after Virginia leaves. in front.
And that element – the ACC title game – now becomes the talking point as Brohm takes his team to Miami a week from Saturday (Nov. 18), in position to secure a spot in ACC final against Florida State.
A North Carolina loss to Duke on Saturday night would also put the Cardinals in the title game, but either way, only Louisville can stop Louisville now.
Virginia almost made it. But Brohm’s team figured it out in the last 15 minutes. They allowed their first touchdown in over 163 minutes (2 1/2 games) 11 minutes into the third quarter.
Then Plummer threw pick six. Then Virginia scored after recovering Jones’ fumble. But in the fourth quarter, the Cards rolled for 187 yards and 17 points after managing just 14 points and 236 in the first three quarters.
“We had a few weeks where everything went well and we played the best we could,” Brohm said. “Of course, that’s what you always try to do…
“…but I’m proud of our guys to hang in there when things weren’t going our way, play to the end and find a way to make enough big plays to win and get some stops at the end.
“That’s really how football works.”
The Cards have 9 days to heal before facing the Hurricanes, who are 6-3 but have lost 3 of their last 5.
Miami beat Texas A&M and Clemson but lost to North Carolina as well as two teams Louisville beat – Georgia Tech and North Carolina State. Miami plays at No. 4 Florida State on Saturday.
Copyright 2023 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.