EditorsNote: rewords second, fourth and seventh grafs
Louisville overcame a two-touchdown, first-half deficit with 31 unanswered points to beat Mississippi State 38-28 on Monday in the 22nd annual Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.
The victory punctuated an amazing turnaround by the Cardinals (8-5) after they went 2-10 in 2018, which ended with the firing of head coach Bobby Petrino and hiring of Scott Satterfield — this season’s Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year.
Louisville quarterback Micale Cunningham was 16 of 23 for 279 yards and two scores. He added 81 rushing yards.
Javian Hawkins, the nation’s leading freshman rusher, recorded a game-best 105 yards on 23 attempts for the Cardinals, who also won the same bowl game in 2015 with Lamar Jackson leading the way against Texas A&M.
Top receiver Tutu Atwell caught nine passes for a game-high 147 yards and also threw a touchdown pass. He set a Louisville single-season record for most receiving yards with 1,272.
Tommy Stevens finished 17 of 26 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 71 yards and a score for the Bulldogs (6-7).
Kylin Hill, the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher with 1,347 yards in the regular season, was injured on the first play from scrimmage and had just 3 yards on seven carries in his final college game.
The Bulldogs went 99 yards on eight plays on the game’s third series after Tim Washington’s fumble recovery at the Mississippi State 1. Stevens ran off the right side on a keeper for a 3-yard touchdown at 4:48.
Cardinals linebacker Dorian Etheridge was ejected for kicking an Mississippi State player early in the second quarter, and Nick Gibson punched in a 3-yard run for a 14-0 Bulldogs lead at 10:19.
Louisville turned to a trick play on a lateral to wide receiver Atwell, who was a dual-threat quarterback during his Miami prep career. He lobbed an easy 33-yard strike to Marshon Ford to make it 14-7.
Ryan Chalifoux drilled a 31-yard field goal on the first half’s last play, marking Louisville’s first field goal since Oct. 19 against Clemson — a six-game span.
Cunningham’s 24-yard pass to Devante Peete on the next series capped a seven-play, 55-yard drive for Louisville’s first lead at 5:01. Khane Pass snared a fumble by Stevens on a clean bounce and returned it 31 yards for a 24-14 lead.
Ford caught his second score in the fourth quarter, and Stevens countered with a TD pass to Stephen Guidry.
Hawkins and Osirus Mitchell added the final two scores.
—Field Level Media