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Louisville Survives Upset-minded Duke

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Louisville survived a serious scare from Duke to pick up another conference victory.

LOUISVILLE Ky. -- Ahead by a field goal midway through the 4th quarter the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals kept their playoff hopes alive with a game-clinching 80-yard scoring drive to beat the Duke Blue Devils 24-14 Friday night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

It was a game-clinching drive that nearly didn't happen. Stalled at 4th and 22 from the Duke 29-yard line Louisville (5-1) elected to try a 46-yard field goal by Evan O'Hara. The kick missed wide left but the Cardinals were granted a new set of downs when Duke's Breon Borders rolled into Louisville kicker and was flagged for a personal foul roughing the kicker.

With a fresh set of downs at the Duke 15-yard line and just 2:05 left on the clock Louisville scored the game-clinching touchdown two plays later on a two-yard scamper by Lamar Jackson. Ahead 24-14 with less than 90 seconds left the Cardinals had survived a tough challenge from a feisty Duke squad.

The game was nip and tuck throughout. Locked in a tight 10-7 battle early in the third quarter Louisville had a 90-yard punt return by Jaire Alexander called back on a block in the back. Four plays later running back Jeremy Smith sprinted through the line and down the near sideline for an 80-yard touchdown to put Louisville ahead 17-7.

The Cardinals missed a chance to add to their lead when a 42-yard attempt from Evan O'Hara went wide left. Duke (3-4) scored a touchdown midway through the 4th quarter to pull within a field goal. The Blue Devils' scoring drive was a thing of slow-moving beauty rolling 75 yards in 15 plays over the span of 8:53.

After Louisville's touchdown to take a 24-14 lead Duke failed to net a first down turning the ball over to Louisville for a final play in victory formation near midfield.

Louisville's high-powered offensive attack was on the shelf for long stretches of the first half as underdog Duke held the ball for 19:02 and emerged with a 10-7 lead at the break.

The Blue Devils kept the score close by bleeding down the clock before each play running 29 plays to Louisville's 31.

The Cardinals who entered averaging a whopping 58 points per game accounted for only a touchdown and a field goal despite totaling 212 yards.

Jackson found Jaylen Smith for a five-yard touchdown on Louisville's opening drive but the Cardinals were forced to punt three times in the half after that. Coming in the Cardinals averaged only 3.6 punts per game.

Duke answered with a touchdown on its opening drive a nine-yard pass from Daniel Jones to Erich Schneider but didn't score again. A 40-yard game-tying field goal attempt from kicker AJ Reed sailed wide right with 2:28 left in the half.

Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports