Micale Cunningham came off the bench to lead a 21-point surge in the second half and the Louisville Cardinals beat the visiting Virginia Cavaliers 28-21 on Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield alternated Cunningham and Evan Conley at quarterback in the first half. With the Cardinals down 14-7 at halftime after Conley struggled in the second quarter, Satterfield put Cunningham back into the lineup.
It was clearly the right choice for the Cardinals (5-3, 3-2 ACC), who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to hand the Cavaliers (5-3, 3-2) their third loss in four games.
A key play occurred just before halftime. Virginia, leading 14-7 and driving in the Louisville red zone, failed to build a two-score lead when quarterback Bryce Perkins was intercepted by Chandler Jones.
In the third quarter, Cunningham ignited the comeback. He converted a third-and-9 with a 10-yard pass. He then found Tutu Atwell on a 26-yard pass to the Virginia 2-yard line which set up a short touchdown run by Javian Hawkins. Louisville forged a 14-14 tie on the 89-yard drive and never looked back.
A fumble recovered at the Virginia 34 set up a short field and the Cardinals cashed in. Cunningham scrambled into the end zone from 25 yards out for a 21-14 lead with 14:22 left in regulation.
Louisville’s defense kept Virginia’s sputtering offense under wraps, and then UL drove home the dagger. Hawkins roared into the end zone for a 17-yard score to make it 28-14 with 2:46 left.
Virginia scored with 21 seconds left and then recovered an onside kick, but its final long-distance pass attempt failed as time ran out.
Cunningham was 6 of 10 for 126 yards and a touchdown for Louisville. He also ran 11 times for 97 yards. Hawkins carried 28 times for 136 yards and two scores and Atwell caught six passes for 122 yards and a TD.
Perkins finished 24 of 41 for 233 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 54 yards and two scores for the Cavaliers.
—Field Level Media