LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Of all the things the University of Louisville football team expected in Tuesday's First Responder Bowl game against Air Force, a season-high total for passing yards by the Falcons clearly wasn't one of them.
Air Force burned Louisville for long touchdown passes, of 61 and 64 yards, to take a two-touchdown lead and roll past the Cardinals, 31-28.
It was the opposite of what the Falcons had done to build a 9-3 record. They came into the game having run 91 straight plays without attempting a pass.
But on Tuesday, Air Force quarterback Haaziq Daniels competed nine of 10 passes for 252 yards, the second-most passing yards for the usually ground-bound Falcons this season. His 10 attempts also matched the second-highest total for Air Force this season.
Louisville pulled within 21-14 on a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jawhar Jordan late in the first half, but Air Force answered with an 11-play, 75 yard drive to go up 28-14 just before the half.
The Cardinals closed within 28-21 on a 34-yard TD pass from Malik Cunningham to Tyler Harrell late in the third quarter, but Air Force answered with another long drive that culminated in a field goal.
Louisville stayed within contact by putting together a six-play drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown run by Cunningham.
But trailing by only a field goal, Louisville could not recover an onside kick, and Air Force iced the game.
Cunningham finished with 207 passing and 92 rushing and moved up to third on Louisville's all-time single-season list with his 20th rushing touchdown.
The Cardinals finish the season 6-7, with four of those losses coming by seven points or less. After last year's 4-7 finish, they have posted back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2008-09, the final two seasons for Steve Kragthorpe.
The loss was also the first in a bowl game for Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, who had been 5-0 in bowl games.
Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.