LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Micale Cunningham passed for a career-best five of six touchdowns accounted for, including a 14-yarder with 1:24 remaining to seal Louisville’s 56-34 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.
Cunningham passed for three TDs and rushed for a 20-yard score in the first half alone on a cold, misty afternoon. The sophomore added a 28-yard scoring pass early in the third, one of several the Cardinals needed during a wild second half in which the schools alternated touchdowns three times.
The sophomore’s final TD pass might have been his most critical for Louisville (7-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) as Syracuse tried to rally. The Orange turned it over twice on downs deep in Louisville territory, with the last ending on three consecutive penalties and a failed a fourth-down pass at the 3.
Javian Hawkins’ 47-yard run set up Cunningham’s 14-yard TD pass to Tutu Atwell as the bowl-bound Cardinals capped conference play with another victory in their turnaround season. They also ended the postseason prospects for Syracuse (4-7, 1-6) a season after the Orange won 10 games including a bowl.
“We were able to get that ball back and then the offense, we take off five, almost six minutes and score a touchdown,” Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield said. “That’s how you win ball games, and it was a great team effort.”
Cunningham completed 11 of 20 passes for 238 yards and rushed eight times for 60. Hawkins established a school rushing record for a freshman by totaling 233 yards on 23 carries.
Atwell added 152 yards receiving to break 1,000 as well, highlighted by a 90-yard TD in the second quarter.
Moe Neal rushed for 163 yards and a TD while Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito passed for 153 and two scores before leaving in the fourth.
There was a scary moment early in the third quarter as Syracuse kicker Sterling Hofrichter was injured after being accidentally kicked in the head by a teammate on a punt return. The senior was able to get up and walked off the field to cheers.
Syracuse: A week after a 46-point road rout of Duke, the Orange played catch-up all day to the Cardinals. They made it interesting in the fourth but couldn’t convert fourth-down chances deep in Louisville’s end.
“Those guys are like cheetahs,” coach Dino Babers said of Louisville. “You can pull them down with one hand, and you’re sure you could. But if you don’t get that one hand on them, then they take off.”
Louisville: The Cardinals outgained Syracuse 608-510 and came up huge on third down, converting 8 of 11 chances. Cunningham’s arm and feet were key, though he had plenty of help from Hawkins and Atwell.
Syracuse hosts Wake Forest on Saturday.
Louisville visits archrival Kentucky on Saturday in a clash for the Governor’s Cup.