This past week has been among the strangest in modern Louisville history.
After it was confirmed that head coach Scott Satterfield had in fact interviewed for the South Carolina job, he dug the hole deeper in the eyes of many with a disastrous Monday press conference.
Midweek, Cardinal receiver Tutu Atwell announced he had played his last game in a Louisville uniform.
Satterfield tried to undo the damage with a letter to season ticket holders on Friday, and has so far managed to stop any more defections from the team and a recruiting class that signs in a matter of days.
What the future holds for the Cards is anyone’s guess, but what was sure was that winning their final game of the season was almost required.And despite all those questions and all that adversity, Louisville closed out the regular season with a 45-21 victory over the Demon Deacons.
Last year’s matchup between the two teams was a 62-59 shootout Cardinal victory with 16 combined touchdowns and a billion yards gained. This year the Deacons have run into COVID issues with them and their opponents and were only playing their eighth game of the season.
Wake Forest scored first on a 10-yard touchdown pass halfway through the first quarter. It was poor offensive showing for the Cards in the first quarter. All their possessions in the first 15 minutes ended in punts, except for their first which ended in a turnover on downs after a botched punt.
Louisville couldn’t respond until midway through the second quarter with a short run by Hassan Hall to tie it up at seven.
Wake Forest added another field goal with five minutes left in the first half, but on their next possession, the Cards added another rushing touchdown by Malik Cunningham to make the score 14-10. And added another score on another Hassan Hall run with a little over a minute left to go into halftime 21-10.
Halfway through the third quarter Louisville scored their first passing touchdown of the game with a four-yard connection to tight end Francis Sherman.
Wake Forest wasn’t quite out yet, adding another field goal to make the score 28-13. They scored another touchdown early in the final quarter to make it a one-score game.
The Cards kept the Deacons at bay however, scoring the game’s last 17 points. Louisville’s own Jordan Watkins scored a 23-yard rushing touchdown with seven minutes left to make it 35-21. The Cards added a field goal with five minutes left, then scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Marshon Ford with two-minutes to go to close the game out.
Perhaps the most amazing stat from this game was that it featured Wake Forest, the best team in the country in terms of turnover margin, facing one of the worst in Louisville. The Deacons had only turned the ball over once in their previous seven games, while the Cards had over 25. But amazingly, Louisville did not turn the ball over once while they picked off Wake Forest once.
Louisville finishes the season 4-7 (3-7 ACC). Wake Forest falls to 4-4 (3-4 ACC).
Malik Cunningham completed 16 of his 22 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 74 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
Jalen Mitchell was the team’s leading rusher with 20 carries for 173 yards. Hassan Hall rushed for two touchdowns and Jordan Watkins added another score on the ground.
Senior Dez Fitzpatrick, playing perhaps his last game as a Cardinal, was the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 77 yards. Marshon Ford and Francis Sherman each caught touchdown passes.
While Louisville is still technically eligible for a bowl game in this lawless college football season, there’s no telling if they’ll be invited to one or they would even accept such an invitation. Whether Cards fans next see them in a bowl or the Spring Game, they will have plenty of momentum after this victory.<