BOZICH | Eight takeaways: Louisville beats Virginia 38-31 to go - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Eight takeaways: Louisville beats Virginia 38-31 to go bowling

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Louisville closed its home season with a victory over Virginia Saturday. Louisville closed its home season with a victory over Virginia Saturday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Beat the teams with losing records. Lose to the teams with winning records.

Essentially, that has been the formula for Bobby Petrino’s team at the University of Louisville this season. Half of the Cardinals’ four defeats have been to undefeated teams – Clemson and Houston.

If the formula works, keep going to the formula. The Cards did that on Senior Day at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Saturday afternoon, rallying from a pair of deficits to defeat Virginia, 38-31.

The victory improved Louisville’s record to 6-4, making the Cardinals bowl-eligible for a sixth consecutive season. Louisville will finish the 2015 season with back-to-back road games. Some takeaways from Saturday's victory:

1. GOT THE JOB DONE: Say hello again to halfback Brandon Radcliff. Two weeks ago Radcliff looked buried on the Louisville depth chart, perhaps even the third-team back.

Not anymore. Radcliff rolled to 146 yards on 21 carries, scoring a pair of touchdowns. His second TD, a 36-yard burst off right guard, pushed the Cards to a 38-24 lead with 2:57 left and ended any idea of a Virginia upset, despite a UVa touchdown in the final 76 seconds. The Cards recovered an onside kick to secure the victory.

Radcliff showed speed, toughness and the ability to run through tackles, all the qualities he showed down the stretch last season.

2. DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE: If you value ball security, you have to question the game Kyle Bolin played at quarterback. He lost two fumbles in the second half. The second led directly to a Virginia touchdown that tied the game at 24 when the Cards had a chance to move ahead by two touchdowns.

Bolin completed only 10 of 21 passes for 139 yards. Petrino stuck with him until the finish, but you wonder if Bolin will remain the guy for the Cardinals’ final two games. The coach is not a fan of turnovers, especially fumbles.

3. TURNING POINT: You can say that James Quick did not make a catch against the Cavaliers, but you can’t say that he did not make a major play.

It was Quick, sprinting down the field in punt coverage, who lowered his shoulder into Virginia’s Olamide Zaccheaus, forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter. After Stacy Thomas recovered for the Cards and the Cavaliers were accessed a personal foul, Louisville found itself with the ball at the UVa 2.

Two plays later L.J. Scott bounced into the end zone for 1-yard touchdown, pushing the Cardinals ahead 31-24 with only 8:30 left in the game.

It was fitting that Quick made the play because he fumbled a punt last season in Charlottesville, a play that was a major contributor in the Cards’ 23-21 defeat. Mistake atoned for.

4. SURPRISE! SURPRISE! The quarterback carousel kept spinning. Kyle Bolin started and played most of the game.

But when the Cards' offense stalled in the second quarter, Bobby Petrino was not reluctant to get creative. He used three quarterbacks on three consecutive plays.

Bolin ran right on second-and-10, pushing the ball to the U of L 35. He was replaced by Lamar Jackson, who flashed through a hole on the left side for 45 yards.

How did Louisville cover the final 20 yards of the drive? With a 20-yard strike from Reggie Bonnafon to Jaylen Smith.

5. WDRB STAR OF THE GAME: Give it to Quick, the junior from Trinity.

Some guys, especially upperclassmen, who expect to make big plays at receiver mope when the passes don’t come their way. Quick didn’t do that. He understands the value of special teams and is a willing contributor on punt and kickoff coverage teams.

Quick’s speed makes him difficult to block and allows him to crowd opposing players on punt returns.

6. STAT OF THE DAY: Perfect 10 – that’s how many tackles for loss that Todd Grantham’s defense delivered. The Cards sustained a persistent pass rush and contributed a string of negative plays by the Cavaliers.

7. WHAT WE LEARNED: Louisville can win when the Cards don’t play their best football. This is a game U of L might have lost earlier this season.

Louisville lost the turnover battle, 2-1. Virginia also had a six-minute edge in time of possession. The Cardinals’ passing game was inconsistent. They gave up a touchdown in the final 90 seconds that made them vulnerable to an onside kick attempt.

But Louisville seemed to get stronger every quarter, outscoring Virginia 21-14 in the second half.

8. WHAT'S NEXT? It’s time for the Cards to pack their gear for back-to-back road games – at Pittsburgh next Saturday and then at Kentucky on Nov. 28. Former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who is in his first season, coaches the Panthers.

Jeff Sagarin’s predictor computer formula projects Pitt will be favored but by less than a point -- 0.71.

The Panthers have split their first four home games, winning the first two against Youngstown State and Virginia before losing to North Carolina and Notre Dame. The Panthers were ranked 23rd in the AP prior to losing to the Tar Heels, 26-19, on Oct. 29. Pitt (6-3) ended its losing streak by winning at Duke Saturday.

Louisville has won two of three on the road, defeating North Carolina State and Wake Forest, but losing to Florida State.  

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