LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Let's set aside the discussion of the downfield passing game for another time; the University of Louisville football program, whose last win came last Sept. 15 against WKU, finally got to celebrate again after cruising past Eastern Kentucky 42-0 in front of a crowd of 48,808 at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday night.
Despite the blowout -- the program's first shutout since 2013 -- the crowd dwindled a little less than it might have just to give the Cardinals an ovation as the final horn sounded and players threw towels into the air as they rushed onto the field.
Jawon Pass threw for four touchdowns and completed 19 of 26 passes for 196 yards after completing just three of his first eight. He connected on eight of his final 11 throws, however, and added four carries for 27 yards.
The victory was Scott Satterfield's first as Louisville's coach and ended a 10-game losing streak that stretched back to last season.
From the press room around the corner, the noise could be heard from the Cardinals' locker room down the hall.
"It’s been a long time for them to celebrate in the locker room with a victory," Satterfield said. " … I’m so happy for them, because it validates all the things we’ve been doing and talking about. I told them, I want this to become the norm."
A few initial thoughts:
1). PATIENCE PAYS. Satterfield didn't waver on Pass even after some ugly overthrows in the first half. He said that the quarterback had a couple of receivers slip, and had a couple of bad throws, but that they worked things out at halftime. Pass was 6-of-6 for 95 yards in the second half.
"We threw the ball better as the game went," Satterfield said. "We’re still not throwing the way we want to throw it. But we’ll continue to get better at that."
On Louisville's first possession, Pass hit Tutu Atwell for a short completion that the receiver turned into a 50-yard touchdown, and the Cardinals had the game in hand from the start.
Satterfield stayed patient on the sidelines, continued to call pass plays and seemed determined to let Pass work himself into a rhythm.
He finally did, though the running game was a big help.
Running back Javian Hawkins went over 100 yards for the second straight game, carrying 11 times for 123 yards, starting the second half with a 66-yard run. Hassan Hall carried 15 times for 58 yards and a touchdown.
"They did a good job with our stretch play," Satterfield said. "(Hawkins) didn’t have any holes to run through (in the first half). So we adjusted at halftime and felt like he’d have some room, and he popped it. I’m proud of our offensive line. We rushed for over 300 yards and I don't think we gave up a sack."
Louisville outgunned EKU 542-172.
2). DEFENSE WAS DOMINANT. Perhaps it is supposed to be against an FCS opponent, but Louisville's defense didn't come close to giving up a score. The Cardinals held EKU to 6 for 17 on third down and gave up only 2.9 yards per play.
Satterfield praised his defensive coaching staff. During the week, he said the team didn't ever put on pads, and wore helmets only two days.
"It was more mental preparation," he said. "It was a phenomenal job by (defensive coordinator Bryan) Brown and his staff, and I can’t hardly talk about it enough how hard it is in a 5-day turnaround. … Our guys, the mental focus was so much better than Monday night. We played well Monday night, but the focus was better tonight."
The Cards had five sacks for a total of 40 yards in losses. The trio of C.J. Avery, Rodjay Burns and Dorian Etheridge led Louisville with seven tackles each.
3). CUNNINGHAM RETURNS. Quarterback Malik Cunningham saw his first action of the season on the Cards' next-to-last drive. He completed his first pass for 24 yards, then three plays later ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
He wound up with 73 yards on four carries, second-best on the team.
Louisville ran for 322 yards in the game, averaging 8.5 yards per carry.
Next up, Louisville will travel to Nashville for a 4 p.m. matchup against Western Kentucky.
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