Louisville at West Virginia

Blocked FG for score helps Louisville stun WVU

CBSSports.com wire reports

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The early part of Louisville's basketball season might have to share some headlines with the Cardinals' surging football team.

Teddy Bridgewater threw for one touchdown, Andrew Johnson returned a blocked field goal for another score and Louisville shocked No. 24 West Virginia 38-35 Saturday.

Not expected to be a factor in the Big East, the surprising Cardinals (5-4, 3-1) used their highest scoring output of the season behind their freshman quarterback to win their third straight and deal a severe blow to West Virginia's title chances.

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"I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," said Louisville coach Charlie Strong. "We knew we had to play well. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win. We have overcome adversity all year long."

In the visitors' locker room, the entire Louisville team was heard singing John Denver's "Country Roads" -- West Virginia's unofficial theme song.

Louisville also got a payback of sorts after being overlooked in the recent Big 12 expansion sweepstakes, a bid that went to the Mountaineers.

"Our team wasn't thinking about that," Strong said. "We were just thinking about going on the road and winning a game."

And keeping up in a tight conference race.

Louisville had entered the weekend in a three-way tie for second place behind Cincinnati, which played at Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The Cardinals, who fell at Cincinnati during a three-game losing streak in October, still have some work left with a home game against Pitt and at Connecticut and South Florida.

Geno Smith threw for 410 yards and three scores but couldn't bring the Mountaineers (6-3, 2-2) back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter.

"We're definitely not doing what it takes to win," Smith said.

West Virginia will likely need to win its final three games against Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida and get some help to have a shot at the league's BCS berth.

Despite being outgained 533-351, Louisville's offense found the end zone four times after failing on half its red-zone trips all season.

Three different backs scored rushing touchdowns for Louisville, which broke a four-game losing streak in the series.

At times it looked as though the Cardinals had the conference's best offense -- not West Virginia, which had trouble at times against the league's No. 1 defense. And the Mountaineers' special teams had another awful day.

Tyler Bitancurt missed one field goal try and had another short one blocked by Adrian Bushell on the first play of the fourth quarter. Johnson picked up the loose ball and went 82 yards to put the Cardinals ahead 31-21.

"Not a very hard one to figure out," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "You lose the turnover battle, you go 0-2 on field goals, that gets you beat."

Smith, who completed 31 of 44 passes but was sacked three times, fumbled the ball away on the next series near midfield. He made up for it on the ensuing 96-yard drive with a 46-yard pass to Ivan McCartney that set up Shawne Alston's 8-yard scoring run with nine minutes left.

But Louisville ran seven minutes off the clock on a 76-yard drive that included Dominique Brown's 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the West Virginia 43.

"Coach looked at me and said 'Dominique, can you do this for us?' and I said, 'I got this coach,"' Brown said.

Brown capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run for a 38-28 lead.

Stedman Bailey, who caught eight passes for 118 yards but had two critical drops, scored on a 1-yard pass from Smith with a minute left. But Louisville recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

Bridgewater, making his sixth start, completed 21 of 27 passes for a season-high 246 yards.

"Teddy is doing a good job of managing the game and making the throws," Strong said. "If you look at it, he is getting better and the whole offense is getting better because we are able to run the football. When you are able to run the football, it opens up the passing game."

Bridgewater provided a spark just before halftime after an 11-yard punt by West Virginia freshman Michael Molinari. Bridgewater went 5 of 6 on the drive, completing a left-handed shovel pass under pressure before hitting Eli Rogers from 4 yards out to tie the game at 21.

West Virginia went scoreless in the third quarter for the first time all season. Bitancurt missed a 33-yard field goal try after Najee Goode intercepted Bridgewater's first pass of the second half.

A fumble by freshman Andrew Buie at the West Virginia 15 set up Chris Philpott's 39-yard field goal to put Louisville ahead entering the fourth.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throws a TD pass as the Cardinals end a four-game skid against West Virginia. (US Presswire)
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throws a TD pass as the Cardinals end a four-game skid against West Virginia. (US Presswire)

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Scoring Summary
WVTavon Austin 25 yd pass from Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt kick)
LOUJeremy Wright 8 yd run (Chris Philpott kick)
LOUSenorise Perry 13 yd run (Chris Philpott kick)
WVStedman Bailey 5 yd pass from Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt kick)
WVShawne Alston 2 yd run (Tyler Bitancurt kick)
LOUEli Rogers 4 yd pass from Teddy Bridgewater (Chris Philpott kick)
LOUChris Philpott 39 yd FG
LOUAndrew Johnson 82 yd blocked FG return (Chris Philpott kick)
WVShawne Alston 7 yd run (Tyler Bitancurt kick)
LOUDominique Brown 3 yd run (Chris Philpott kick)
WVStedman Bailey 1 yd pass from Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt kick)
Team Stats
First Downs1528
Third Down Efficiency5-138-14
Fourth Down Efficiency1-10-1
Plays-Net Yards60-35178-533
Passing Yds246410
Kick Return Yds127234
Punt Return Yds00
Time of Poss.30:4629:14
Individual Stats
LOU: Dominique Brown 14-69, Victor Anderson 8-39, Senorise Perry 1-13, Jeremy Wright 3-10, Team 2--4, Teddy Bridgewater 5--22
WV: Dustin Garrison 13-64, Shawne Alston 11-45, Tavon Austin 2-20, Andrew Buie 3-2, Geno Smith 5--8
LOU: Teddy Bridgewater 21-27-246-1
WV: Geno Smith 31-44-410-0
LOU: Eli Rogers 5-63, Dominique Brown 3-32, Victor Anderson 3-22, Devonte Parker 2-37, Josh Chichester 2-36, Chris White 2-25, Michaelee Harris 2-16, Andrell Smith 1-8, Josh Bellamy 1-7
WV: Stedman Bailey 8-118, Tavon Austin 7-90, Devon Brown 5-49, Ivan McCartney 4-61, Willie Milhouse 2-19, Dustin Garrison 1-19, Tyler Urban 1-18, Andrew Buie 1-18, Brad Starks 1-11, Ryan Nehlen 1-7

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