CRAWFORD & BOZICH | Louisville loses to Houston 34-31: Four take - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD & BOZICH | Louisville loses to Houston 34-31: Four takeaways

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The University of Louisville football team entered the season with high hopes despite some heavy graduation losses.

After a 34-31 upset loss to Houston in its home opener on Saturday, the Cardinals are 0-2 facing a short week to prepare for a Clemson team ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press polls.

The Cardinals took too long to find an offensive rhythm, and their defense was dominated in the second half.

Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson was lifted in favor of sophomore Kyle Bolin, who moved the team effectively in the second half. But when a 53-yard potential game-tying field goal by John Wallace fell short with a minute to play that was it.

1. ROLLIN' WITH BOLIN: Lamar Jackson played like a freshman. He threw a couple of ill-advised interceptions deep. He did move the team on some drives, but in general what Petrino wanted to do offensively in the second half didn’t jibe with what Jackson’s strengths are right now.

Petrino needed an accurate passing game to take apart the Houston defense. Jackson came out on the first drive of the second half and executed that, but a botched exchange and a fumble killed the drive.

Finally, after a long interception, Petrino turned to Kyle Bolin, and the sophomore hero from last season’s come-from-behind win over Kentucky was just what the coach needed.

He went 3-for-3 on his first drive, taking the Cardinals 79 yards in seven plays to a touchdown. On his second drive, he took the Cards 73 yards in nine plays, hitting tight end Micky Crum for a 29-yard touchdown strike.

With a chance for another game-winning drive, Bolin faced heavy pressure from Houston, still he completed passes when he had the chance. 

Bolin hit on 10 of 18 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown, but Houston rolled up 462 yards of offense, 226 rushing yards and 236 passing, while U of L managed just 70 yards on the ground. 

2. BAD DAY FOR THE DEFENSE: There were more missed tackles by Louisville defenders on Saturday than Cardinal fans have seen since the tenure of a coach they’d rather not have named.

In defense of the defense, it was on the field a great deal. The four Cardinal turnovers let Houston run an exhausting 92 plays in the game.

The defense got great play from its big four, linebacker Keith Kelsey and James Burgess, defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons.

But the Cardinals faltered repeatedly on third down. It gave up a 40-yard pass on third and 10 to keep one Houston TD drive alive again. And with a chance for a big stop with a 31-27 lead in the fourth quarter, it gave up a 29-yard run by Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr.

Ward torched the Cards in just about every way. He ran for 98 yards. He passed for 236. His 15-yard touchdown pass with 3:09 left put Houston up 34-31. And Kenneth Farrow carried 27 times for 109 yards.

3. SCORING KING – Despite missing the possible tying field goal, Wallace will leave the program no worse than the school’s second all-time leading scorer.

Wallace scored seven points Saturday to move past Lenny Lyles (300 points) into second place on the Cards’ scoring list.
 
Wallace, a senior from John Hardin High School recruited by Charlie Strong, kicked four extra points as well as a 36-yard field goal. His seven points pushed his career total to 306.
 
He’s unlikely to overtake U of L scoring leader Art Carmody, another kicker. Carmody played from 2003-06 and scored 433 points. Wallace has converted 147 of 153 extra points in his career.
 
4. UP NEXT – Clemson visits Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN. The Tigers opened the weekend ranked 12th in the Associated Press writers’ and USA Today coaches’ polls.
 
The Cards were this close to winning at Clemson last season, but receiver James Quick was tackled from behind on the 8-yard line with 1:08 to play on a 73-yard pass play from Will Gardner.
 
The Cards had four chances to score, but wasted one while spiking the ball. They failed to score and lost, 23-17.
 
After blasting FCS program Wofford in its opener, Clemson overpowered Appalachian State Saturday. The Tigers led 38-0 early in the third quarter. Quarterback DeShaun Watson completed 19 of his first 26 passes for three touchdowns.
 
It will be the Tigers’ first game in Louisville.
 
Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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