CRAWFORD | Winning ugly: Eight takeaways from Louisville's 17-14 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Winning ugly: Eight takeaways from Louisville's 17-14 win over BC

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Reggie Bonnafon looks to break away from a defender during Louisville's win Saturday. (AP photo) Reggie Bonnafon looks to break away from a defender during Louisville's win Saturday. (AP photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — In a game so ugly that only its mother — or maybe Charlie Strong — could love it, the University of Louisville football team began the second half of the 2015 season with a 17-14 victory over Boston College.

In front of a Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium crowd announced at 41,486, U of L outgained BC 365-79 and held the Eagles to only four first downs, but needed a defensive stand late to hold onto the win after Boston College recovered a Louisville fumble near midfield with just over two minutes to play.

The negative 14 yards allowed by U of L were the sixth-lowest rushing total in school history, but big turnovers by the Cardinals helped keep BC in the game.

The teams combined for 15 sacks, 21 punts and 30 tackles for loss.

But the win sends U of L to 3-4 overall, and into a short week of preparation for a game at Wake Forest Friday night with some momentum.

“I was really proud of the defense. They really dominated the game,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “. . . Offensively, we didn’t play anywhere good enough in the second half to win the game. . . . But we’ll come back. We need our offense to come back like our defense did this week.”

A quick look:

1. GOT THE JOB DONE. The Louisville defense. Granted, Boston College is the most offensively challenged team in the ACC, but the Louisville defense needed a get-well game after giving up 35 second-half points at against Florida State, and you don’t get much better than Louisville’s defense was Saturday. Sheldon Rankins scored on a 46-yard fumble recovery touchdown, and the only TD the defense gave up was on a short field following a BC fumble recovery. Boston College was just 1-for-14 on third-down conversions, and ran for a negative 14 yards on 30 attempts. Late in the game, after the Louisville offense coughed up a fumble at its own 47 with 2:18 left, a pair of sacks got the ball back, and allowed the Cardinals to run out the clock. Linebacker Keith Kelsey had a career-high 4 1/2 tackles for loss and six different Cardinals recorded sacks.

2. DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE. The Louisville offensive front couldn’t do anything with the Boston College defense — ranked No. 1 in the defense in FBS in yards allowed and No. 4 in points allowed coming in. The Eagles recorded 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks. They also had six false-start penalties as Boston College pitched a shutout in the second half. The last time that happened to a Bobby Petrino-coached Louisville team was at Rutgers in 2006, when the No. 3-ranked Cardinals led 25-14 at the half, then didn’t score again, and saw their BCS hopes dashed on a Jeremy Ito field goal to lose 28-25. Still, freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson wound up throwing for 230 yards and Reggie Bonnafon carried 10 times for a game-high 56 yards.

3. TURNING POINT. The Louisville defense controlled this one thoroughly throughout, but Rankins’ fumble recovery and 46-yard touchdown return — leaping a defender and a teammate on his way to the score — wound up being huge. It gave the Cardinals their only other touchdown of the game after a Lamar Jackson 4-yard score in the first quarter, and it gave the Cards a cushion they would wind up needing badly after Boston College scored on a blocked punt with 4:37 until halftime.

4. SURPRISE, SURPRISE. Sophomore receiver Javonte Bagley, who has made just six catches for 37 yards in two years heading into the game, had three catches for 69 yards, including a big 39-yard catch on a slant on 3rd and 12 to open the fourth quarter.

5. WDRB PLAYER OF THE GAME. It has to go to a defensive player, and that guy is Rankins, who had the highlight of the game with his return run, and wound up with three tackles, two for loss and a pass broken up. Also give a nod to linebacker James Burgess, with 10 tackles, one for loss.

6. STAT OF THE DAY. Of Boston College’s 17 drives in the game. Ten went for zero yards or negative yardage.

7. WHAT WE LEARNED. The Cardinals have a chance, if their defense plays up to its expectations, to put together a run of victories after a difficult first half of the season. Their next three games come against Wake Forest, Virginia and Syracuse. But the offense still has a long way to go. Six false starts on the offensive line. Jackson still makes some bad decisions, which is to be expected. “But,” Petrino cautioned, “that’s one of the best defenses we’re going to play against.”

8. NOW WHAT? The Cards have a short week, with a Friday night game at Wake Forest. “We’ll give them Sunday off,” Petrino said. “Then Monday night will be a normal Tuesday for us, and we’ll go forward on that schedule.”

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