Junior running back Jeremy Wright ran for a career-high 114 yards and scored a touchdown as 19th-ranked Louisville held off a furious North Carolina rally to earn a 39-34 win on Saturday afternoon at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals (3-0) rolled out to a dominating 36-7 halftime lead behind 360 yards of offense while mounting their highest scoring first half of football since 2007. However, the Tar Heels (1-2) scored 20 points over the final 12:02 to make it a game. After a Louisville turnover gave UNC the ball for one final threat at the Cardinals’ 23 with 4:15 to go, cornerback Andrew Johnson made a dramatic defensive play to breakup a fourth and goal pass into the end zone to preserve the win inside the final two minutes.
Wright carried the ball 20 times to surpass his previous career best rushing total of 108 yards set against Rutgers in 2011. Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was 23-for-28 for 279 yards passing and while matching a career-high with three touchdowns through the air. Freshman Charles Gaines led 10 different Cardinals with catches on Saturday finishing with a career-best five receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, senior cornerback Adrian Bushell led the way with eight tackles and one fumble recovery.
A complete recap of Saturday’s game with stats, notes, quotes, press conference video and photos is available here at UofLsports.com.
- With the win over North Carolina on Saturday, the Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since the 2006 season, when Louisville opened the year at 8-0 before falling to Rutgers. The Cardinals went on to finish 12-1, which included a 24-13 win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.
- Louisville scored on each of its possessions in the first half, keeping the punt unit off the field. The last time the Cardinals went through the first half without having to punt was against Murray State in 2007, when Louisville scored 10-straight touchdowns and ended the game with a field goal. The last time Louisville accomplished it against a non-FCS opponent was against North Carolina in 2005 (Oct. 8), when the Cardinals weren’t forced to punt until the third quarter.
- Saturday’s announced attendance was 53,334, the fourth-largest crowd in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium history.
- The Louisville defense has yet to give up a point in the first quarter this season. The Cardinals are outscoring the opposition, 34-0, in the opening period.
- Louisville’s 36 first-half points are the most since the Cardinals scored 49 versus Murray State in 2007. Louisville’s point total is the seventh-most in the first half since 2000.
- Louisville’s offense produced 360 yards in the first half, the most since 380 against Memphis in 2010. The Cardinals gained 200 yards via the pass and 180 on the ground.