Recap: Louisville Finally Solves Turnover Problem In Win Over Wake Forest

Wake Forest and Louisville entered Saturday’s game among the best and worst teams in turnover margin, respectively. Wake Forest had one turnover all season with a +15 turnover margin, while Louisville was -14 in the margin.

Saturday’s game was not only why we play the games, but also peak 2020 energy. Louisville forced two turnovers and had 10 points off of them, while also having none on offense, as the Cardinals (4-7, 3-7 ACC) capped off its regular season with a 45-21 win over Wake Forest (4-4, 3-4).

Despite the outcome, it was not an optimal start for Louisville. Their first drive saw the Cardinals fall into an early hole after a backwards lateral on the first play put them in a second-and-28 spot. Punter Ryan Harwell had troubles with the snap and tried to save the play by scrambling, but couldn’t convert the fourth down.

Wake Forest would capitalize by scoring the first points of the game, as Sam Hartman found Taylor Morin for a ten yard touchdown pass.

After getting seven total yards in the first quarter, Louisville had 208 in the second. Dez Fitzpatrick was the catalyst behind Louisville’s first points, accounting for 55 of the 80 yards as Hassan Hall would sprint in for a two-yard touchdown to tie the game.

Louisville’s 7-7 tie would be short lived, as Nick Sciba hit a 45-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead for Wake Forest on the next drive.

The Cardinals then took a 14-10 lead on a two-play drive, with Jalen Mitchell breaking off a 70-yard run to get them into a first-and-goal spot. Malik Cunningham finished off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. Hassan Hall would score again on the next drive to give Louisville a 21-10 halftime lead, after Monty Montgomery intercepted Sam Hartman’s pass off a deflection. The interception was Hartman’s first of the 2020 season, and Wake Forest’s second turnover of the season.

Louisville continued their momentum to start the second half, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive. Cunningham found Francis Sherman on a wide open four-yard touchdown pass, capping off a 12-play drive and extending their lead to 28-10.

Wake Forest cut it down to one possession with a 31-yard field goal from Sciba, and Hartman connecting on a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jaquarii Roberson on fourth down.

However, Louisville would push the game out of reach with 17 unanswered points to close it out. Jordan Watkins took an end-around 23 yards for the first touchdown of his collegiate career, extending Louisville’s lead to 35-21. Wake Forest fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Louisville fell on top of it, giving the Cardinals another possession inside Wake Forest territory.

Though the Cardinals were unable to score another touchdown on that drive, they came away with a field goal as James Turner booted a 40-yard field goal through, extending Louisville’s lead to 38-21. After Wake Forest failed to convert a fourth down, Cunningham got his second touchdown pass on a 22-yard throw to Marshon Ford down the left sideline.

Jalen Mitchell enjoyed a career day as the RB1 for Louisville, rushing for 168 yards on 20 carries. Hassan Hall also had his first two rushing touchdowns of the 2020 season, rushing for 27 yards on 12 carries. Malik Cunningham had an efficient day with 16-of-22 passing for 195 yards and three total touchdowns (two pass, one rush). Senior Dez Fitzpatrick led the team with six receptions for 77 yards in his final home game at Louisville.

Jaquarii Roberson led Wake Forest with eight catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Sam Hartman struggled with accuracy throughout the day, completing 17-of-41 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with his first interception of the season. Wake Forest lost the turnover margin for the first time in 2020, giving up two turnovers while forcing none.

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