Page last updated on Wed Jun 29 03:17:08 EDT 2016
10/13/2012 4:20 PM EDT
No. 18 Louisville races past Pitt 45-35
LOUISVILLE 45, PITTSBURGH 35
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The day Charlie Strong took over at Louisville
nearly three years ago, he gave a memorable, paint-peeling
speech in which he told the sliding Cardinals the status quo was
no longer acceptable.
After watching his 18th-ranked team slog through an unremarkable
opening half against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Strong reiterated
the point. And just like the first time around, he got the
Teddy Bridgewater hit DeVante Parker for a 75-yard touchdown
pass on the first play of the second half to give Louisville the
lead and the Cardinals pulled away for a 45-35 victory to
continue their best start since 2006.
"There were some very choice words, but you have to get them
going and sometime that's the only way," Strong said.
Senorise Perry rushed for 101 yards and a career-high four
touchdowns for Louisville (6-0, 1-0 Big East), which ended a
four-game losing streak to Pitt. Bridgewater finished with 304
yards passing while Parker had four receptions for 153 yards,
most of them coming after Strong's blistering pep talk.
Parker's score came in the middle of a 24-point burst by
Louisville spanning the second and third quarters that turned a
seven-point deficit into a 38-21 lead.
"Opening up the Big East schedule with a win is a big confidence
boost for us," Bridgewater said. "Hopefully it will send a
message to the rest of the Big East."
Tino Sunseri passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns but Pitt
(2-4, 0-3) couldn't complete a late rally.
Trailing by 10 with 5 minutes to play, the Panthers faced
fourth-and-8 at the Louisville 22. Instead of attempting a
39-yard field goal to draw within a touchdown, the Panthers went
for it and Sunseri's pass for Cam Saddler fell incomplete.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst offered no excuses for the decision.
"I felt like we could get it," he said. "I wanted to put it in
the players' hands ... I felt good putting the play call in. We
didn't execute it."
Perry then raced 59 yards down the sideline for his final
touchdown to seal it. He is the first Louisville running back to
score four times in a single game since Michael Bush
accomplished the feat during a triple-overtime loss to West
Virginia in 2005.
"He is an interesting kid," Louisville center Mario Benavides
said. "He works his butt off. Whatever the coaches ask him to
do, whether it is special teams or anything, he does."
The Cardinals began the season as the overwhelming Big East
favorite but some of the shine was stripped away by sluggish
road wins at overmatched Florida International and Southern
Mississippi coupled with the impressive starts by No. 20 Rutgers
and No. 21 Cincinnati.
Louisville has been parked toward the bottom third of the Top 25
all season, leading Strong to repeatedly blast Aretha Franklin's
version of "Respect" in the locker room over the last two weeks.
The Cardinals are hoping Strong will select a new song following
their electric second half.
"I'm getting pretty sick of it," Benavides said.
The surge actually began shortly before the end of the first
half. Pitt controlled the game early, taking a 21-14 lead behind
consistent play from Sunseri, aggressive running from Rushel
Shell and a blocked punt that linebacker Todd Thomas turned into
When the Panthers got greedy, however, they got in trouble.
Faced with a fourth-and-1 at the Louisville 42 with less than a
minute to go in the half, Pitt opted to go for it. Shell was
stuffed for a 1-yard loss and Louisville took over.
Three plays generated little and the Cardinals had fourth-and-8
at their own 45 with 22 seconds left. Rather than kick,
Louisville gambled and Bridgewater delivered a pretty 27-yard
completion to Parker.
The play gave Louisville enough room for John Wallace to hit a
45-yard field goal just before the gun and provide the Cardinals
the kickstart they needed.
"They were playing man (defense)," Parker said. "We knew we
could beat that and just had to make big plays."
They were just beginning for the Cardinals.
Taking over at the Louisville 25 to start the second half,
Bridgewater dropped back and found a streaking Parker down the
left sideline. The sophomore receiver hauled it in and beat a
pair of defenders to the end zone to give Louisville its first
"Teddy just threw it up and I got it," Parker said.
Pitt went three-and-out and Louisville started again at its own
32. Eli Rodgers made a beautiful diving grab for a 29-yard gain
on third-and-8 to move the Cardinals into Pitt territory.
Bridgewater's 35-yard strike to Parker helped set up Perry's
2-yard TD run that made it 31-21.
A botched Pitt punt snap later in the third quarter gave the
Cardinals the ball deep in Panthers territory, and Perry went up
the middle from a yard out to put Louisville up 17.
"At any point in the game when momentum goes away, you've got to
fight to get it back your way," Chryst said. "We didn't do that
and that's where, during the third quarter, you saw the
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