Another game, another weekend where Louisville’s undisciplined play bit them down the stretch. Three turnovers, combined with a lack of stops on defense in the second half, doomed the Cardinals (3-7, 2-7) to a 34-27 loss to Boston College (6-4, 5-4).
Despite a career high 182 receiving yards from Dez Fitzpatrick and 427 total yards from Malik Cunningham, Louisville was once again shackled by turnovers and an inability to get stops down the stretch. The Cardinals lost the turnover margin 3-1 and only forced Boston College to punt it twice, even with the Eagles losing starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec in the second half.
Louisville’s offense got off to a great start with a big kick return by Hassan Hall, setting Louisville up inside their own 40-yard line. A 15-yard pass from Malik Cunningham to Ean Pfeifer, then a 21-yard run by Hall, put the Cardinals inside Boston College territory. But after three plays of little to no yardage, Louisville had to settle for a 44-yard field goal by James Turner.
The opening score was the third time this season that Louisville scored first in a game, and the first time this season they did so in consecutive games.
Boston College marched down the field and got in a goal-to-go spot on their first drive, but fumbled the ball away on a quarterback sneak by Phil Jurkovec.
As has been the case though for Louisville, a turnover by the Cardinals gave Boston College a second chance. Cunningham’s play-action crosser to Tutu Atwell saw the receiver lose the ball and give it back to the Eagles. Boston College would eventually score a touchdown on the ensuing drive, an eight yard run by David Bailey that put the Eagles ahead 7-3 after the first quarter.
Another Louisville turnover led to Boston College points, as Hassan Hall coughed it up on the turf. Kei’Trel Clark had a crucial pass breakup on third-and-goal that kept the Eagles to a field goal, 23 yards out from Aaron Boumerhi.
Jalen Mitchell tied the game with a two yard touchdown run on the next drive, but Boston College took the lead on a late 23-yard field goal by Boumerhi to make it 13-10 at halftime.
The Eagles extended their lead to 20-10 on the opening drive of the second half after David Bailey’s one yard run up the middle on second-and-goal. The drive was led by Jurkovec hitting multiple passes of 10+ yards, including passes of 17 and 21 yards to Zay Flowers and Spencer Witter, respectively.
Jurkovec, however, would leave the game with a non-contact knee injury in the third quarter, finishing 15-of-19 for 203 yards. Backup Dennis Grosel filled in admirably though, leading the Eagles on two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. The first drive was highlighted by Grosel’s 44-yard run that flipped field position and put the momentum squarely in the Eagles favor. Grosel would cap it off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to CJ Lewis, with the receiver snagging it with one hand against his left shoulder.
Malik Cunningham became a one man show on Louisville’s next drive in order to cut the lead down to one possession. The junior had all but ten of the 78 yards on the drive, including a 26-yard pass to Tutu Atwell on fourth-and-five, and a 17-yard run on third-and-seven. Cunningham eventually hit Atwell on a four-yard touchdown pass to cut it to 27-20.
Grosel’s second touchdown drive iced the game effectively, with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jehlani Galloway. Though Malik Cunningham connected with Dez Fitzpatrick on a 69-yard touchdown to cut it to 34-27, an interception on Louisville’s final drive capped a chance at a comeback for the Cardinals.
Louisville outgained Boston College 493-435, but as has been the case this season, turnovers were the proverbial backbreaker for the Cardinals. Louisville lost the margin 3-1, including an interception on the final drive that kept the Cardinals from tying the game late. Malik Cunningham had 427 total yards (294 passing, 133 rushing) with two passing touchdowns, completing 19-of-31 passes. Dez Fitzpatrick had a career day with 182 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight receptions, with Tutu Atwell getting five receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown himself.
Despite losing starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec in the second half, backup quarterback Dennis Grosel delivered in crunch time to give the Eagles a victory. Grosel had 93 total yards and two passing touchdowns, both coming in the fourth quarter. David Bailey had two touchdowns rushing with 53 yards, while Zay Flowers (seven receptions, 87 yards) led the team in receiving.
Louisville’s final regular season will occur in three weeks time, on December 19th against Wake Forest at Cardinal Stadium.