LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — This crazy game. Louisville did whatever it wanted to do on offense, did a whole bunch of things it did not want to do on defense, but, in the end, powered its way to a remarkable seventh victory in Scott Satterfield's first season, 56-34 over Syracuse.
It was the fifth time this season Louisville has taken down a team that beat the Cardinals by double digits a year ago. It was this kind of day: Every Louisville player who carried the ball, caught a pass or threw the ball, scored a touchdown.
"I'm so proud of these guys and so happy for these seniors," Satterfield said. "They guaranteed a winning season and a winning season in the ACC, and that's a huge accomplishment. These seniors who stuck with us this year, a lot of them probably didn't get to play as much as they'd like. . . . The resilience this club showed, that's the biggest thing we're proud about."
Sophomore quarterback Micale Cunningham completed only 11 passes, but five were for touchdowns, including a 90-yarder to Tutu Atwell in the first half — his NCAA-leading sixth TD pass of 70 or more yards.
The Cards led 28-10 at half, then running back Javian Hawkins provided the knockout blow in the second half with a pair of 44-yard runs, one of them for a touchdown. He carried for 233 yards on 23 carries in the game, his sixth game of over 100 yards rushing, making him the the first U of L freshman ever to accomplish the feat.
Louisville averaged 10 yards per play in the game. Cunningham averaged 21.6 yards per completion. Hawkins averaged 10.1 yards per rush.
"That's obviously a very, very good football team and they deserve to be exactly where they are at," Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. "It's really old-school football. It's almost like running the wishbone out of the shotgun."
It's a different defense from what Louisville used for the better part of three seasons with Lamar Jackson.
"They are doing something entirely different," Babers said. "This would be closer to what Georgia Tech used to do than what Louisville did with Lamar. Not identical, but closer."
Louisville improved to 6-0 in games when it scores first. The Cards jumped on top 14-3, but Syracuse had too much offense for the Cardinals to put the game away.
And as the Cards added a TD to go up by the final margin, the sparse crowd that remained broke into a chant of "Beat UK."
Louisville pilled up 608 yards of total offense, and gave up 510 to Syracuse.
Atwell caught five passes for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Marshon Ford, Seth Dawkins and Jordan Davis added TD catches for the Cards.
Hassan Hall carried for 71 yards on eight carries and had a TD run. Cunningham ran eight times for 60 yards.
And a senior class that has ridden quite a roller coaster at Louisville gets to go out with a win at home.
"That's all we talked about this week, sending those guys out as winners," Satterfield said. "There's 27 of them out there, and a lot of them are not regular players. But they contributed so much more than just was out on the field. In the weight room and meeting room and how they carried themselves. From that locker room in December to where they are right now, and all they've worked, it means the world to me. They'll forever be remembered as winners, and that's extremely important."
Next up for the Cardinals: Another opportunity to avenge a double-digit loss from last season. They'll face rival Kentucky at noon Saturday at Kroger Field.
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