Louisville, KY (Sports Network) – Demetris Murray ran for 206 yards and the USF defense came up with a big defensive stand in overtime, as the Bulls became bowl eligible with a 24-21 win over the Louisville Cardinals in Big East play at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The Bulls (6-3, 3-2 Big East) won their third straight despite a relatively quiet day from quarterback B.J. Daniels, who threw for 87 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-19 passing.
Bilal Powell, the nation’s fifth-leading rusher entering the weekend, returned from a knee injury to rush for 140 yards on 31 carries for Louisville (5-5, 2-3). Justin Burke started his second straight game at quarterback in place of injured starter Adam Froman (leg) and threw for 146 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.
Cardinals’ cornerback Darius Ashley came up with the game’s first big play when he sacked Daniels and forced a fumble to give Louisville the ball deep in USF territory with 9:25 to play in the first quarter. Four plays later, Burke found Andrell Smith for a 20-yard touchdown to give the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead.
USF cut that lead to 7-3 on a 39-yard field goal by Maikon Bonani at the 8:58 mark of the second quarter.
Burke extended Louisville’s lead to 14-3 when he found Josh Chichester for a two-yard touchdown pass with 2:50 to play until halftime, capping a 14-play, 80-yard drive.
But the momentum from that drive was short-lived, as Bulls’ return man Lindsey Lamar took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to make it a 14-10 game.
USF opened the second half with a seven-play, 85-yard drive that yielded three points on a 22-yard field goal by Bonani, cutting the deficit to 14-13.
The Bulls kept the pressure on, as Daniels connected with Dontavia Bogan for a 48-yard scoring strike at the 11:43 mark of the fourth quarter. Daniels ran it in for the two-point conversion to give USF a 21-14 lead.
The Cardinals put together a late nine-play, 46-yard drive to tie the game with 1:21 remaining on Burke’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Josh Bellamy.
Louisville had the first possession in overtime, but Burke was stuffed for no gain on a 4th-and-1 at the USF 4 resulting in a turnover on downs. USF took over possession and Bonani kicked a 37-yard field goal for the game-winner.
USF won despite only 10 first downs and 259 yards of total offense for the game.
11/13 16:48:58 ET