LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Brock Bolen's three rushing touchdowns
helped Louisville to a 42-23 win over Middle Tennessee despite
inconsistent early play by quarterback Hunter Cantwell.
Bolen ran for 67 yards and Victor Anderson ran for 161 yards,
including an 88-yard touchdown.
The Blue Raiders (2-5) took advantage of two first-quarter
interceptions by Cantwell. Jeremy Kelley returned the first one for
a 14-yard touchdown and less than three minutes later, an
interception by Ivon Hickmon set up a 39-yard pass from wide
receiver Patrick Honeycutt to Phillip Tanner to give the Blue
Raiders a 14-0 lead.
But Bolen ran for 1-yard scores in the third and fourth quarter,
and Cantwell's 1-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Burns capped a
second half in which Louisville outscored the Blue Raiders 28-6.
Early in the game, it looked like it would be another like last
season's shootout when Louisville won 58-42. Though the Cardinals
won that game, the Blue Raiders ran up 555 yards of offense,
compared to 306 on Saturday. The Cardinals had 391 offensive yards.
With the Blue Raiders up 14-0, Bolen scored his first touchdown
on a three-yard run up the middle.
The Cardinals forced the Blue Raiders to punt on their next
series but found themselves pinned down on their own 12. Anderson's
88-yard run up the middle, the fourth longest in Louisville
history, on second down tied the score at 14-14. The Blue Raiders
went into half time with a 17-14 lead after Alan Gendreau's 42-yard
Louisville's defense, ranked 30th in the nation going into the
game, forced Middle Tennessee to punt on seven of eight drives
after the Blue Raiders' second touchdown, and held the Blue Raiders
to 93 yards of offense in the second half.
Middle Tennessee switched back and forth between quarterbacks,
using the more mobile Dwight Dasher on several possessions. Dasher
finished with 31 rushing yards and 10 passing yards. Phillip Tanner
led the Blue Raiders in rushing with 46 yards on 13 carries.
Louisville used its rushing game to control the clock in the
second half, holding the ball for 19:33, to Middle Tennessee's
10:27. Bolen scored two more touchdowns of a yard each in the
second half and Johnny Patrick recovered a blocked punt in the end
zone to put the game out of reach for good.
Cantwell added an insurance touchdown pass to Johnnie Burns with
2:30 to play.