Recap: Louisville Defense Smashes Syracuse In A Shutout

Louisville’s defense was efficient and physical on Friday night, holding the Orange to 137 total yards, 1-of-10 on third down, and forced three turnovers. This would be enough for the Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC) to pull out a 30-0 win over Syracuse (1-8, 1-7).

The shutout victory is the second for Louisville in the Scott Satterfield era, previously earning a 42-0 win over Eastern Kentucky in September 2019. The 137 yards allowed is the third-lowest against an ACC opponent since Louisville joined the conference in 2014.

James Turner’s 50-yard field goal on the opening drive gave Louisville a 3-0 lead. The field goal was the second time this season that Louisville scored first in a game, and the longest field goal for the Cardinals since 2015.

Despite three first half turnovers by Malik Cunningham, Louisville’s defense held its ground in the first half. The Cardinals held the Orange to 91 total yards, forced three turnovers and held them to 0-5 on third down. The farthest that Syracuse’s offense got in the first half was the Louisville 49-yard line, which led to a failed fourth down attempt by the Orange.

The first turnover by Syracuse led to another field goal from Turner, this time from 40 yards out. Kei’Trel Clark intercepted JaCobian Morgan near midfield to set up Louisville’s scoring drive.

Another Syracuse turnover, this time on a fumbled kick return, led to Louisville’s first touchdown of the game. Marvin Dallas recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick return, which led to a Louisville drive capped off by Jalen Mitchell’s two-yard rushing touchdown.

After getting a fourth down stop, Louisville added onto its lead with another touchdown drive. Malik Cunningham scrambled up the middle on third and goal to give the Cardinals a commanding 20-0 lead.

Despite recovering another fumbled kickoff near the end of the first half, Louisville couldn’t add onto its impressive lead. Cunningham forced a pass down the right sideline and was intercepted by Ifeatu Melifonwu.

Cunningham would rebound to score Louisville’s only touchdown of the second half, hitting a 19-yard pass to Tutu Atwell on a corner route to extend the lead to 27-0.

Jawon Pass entered the game in relief of Cunningham for the fourth quarter, and finished the drive with points. James Turner hit a 33-yard field goal to extend Louisville’s lead to 30-0. Evan Conley also made an appearance in the fourth quarter and led the Cardinals on a late drive inside Syracuse territory, but a sack on third-and-11 and a false start penalty put the Cardinals out of scoring range.

The defensive effort by Louisville was magnificent in almost every facet of the game. The Cardinals held the Orange to 137 total yards, forced three turnovers, and 1-for-10 on third down on a night where the defense was flying everywhere. Jared Goldwire had a stellar outing with a sack and two tackles for loss. Kei’Trel Clark had an interception and a fumble recovery, accounting for two of Louisville’s three turnovers.

Syracuse ended the night completing just 6-of-16 passes for 45 yards, with Sean Tucker (93 yards) leading the team in rushing.

Malik Cunningham finished 19-of-28 for 219 yards with two total touchdowns (one pass, one rush) in three quarters of work, but had three first half turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble). Braden Smith led all Louisville receivers with seven receptions for 65 yards, while Tutu Atwell had a 19-yard touchdown catch on his lone reception.

In Louisville’s first game since Javian Hawkins announced his opt out of the remaining 2020 season, the Cardinals had 134 rushing yards on 2.97 yards per carry. It was a committee effort by Jalen Mitchell (46 yards), Maurice Burkley (56 yards), and Hassan Hall (22 yards) at running back, who had 11, ten, and nine carries, respectively.

Louisville will have one final home game on Saturday, November 28th against Wake Forest. The Cardinals and Demon Deacons will play at a time yet to be determined.

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