Louisville shocks No. 24 West Virginia, 38-35
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia's problems on special teams finally proved to be its downfall.
Louisville's Andrew Johnson returned a blocked field goal for an 82-yard touchdown to spark the Cardinals' upset of No. 24 West Virginia, 38-35, Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Down 24-21, West Virginia drove 73 yards to the Louisville 6 before being stopped when a Geno Smith pass to Stedman Bailey fell incomplete in the end zone.
Kicker Tyler Bitancurt lined up for a 23-yard field goal when Louisville's Adrian Bushell came over the right side of the West Virginia line to block the kick. The ball bounced into Johnson's hands, and he took off down the right sideline to the dismay of the 57,287 in attendance, putting the Cardinals up, 31-21.
West Virginia tried to get back in the game on the next drive but turned the ball over. Smith dropped back to set up a screen as Louisville's Calvin Pryor pressured the junior. The ball slipped out of Smith's hands as he wound up to thrown, and Pryor recovered.
The Mountaineers held Louisville to a three-and-out, but Chris Philpott's punt planted West Virginia at its own 4.
Smith responded, engineering an eight-play, 96-yard touchdown drive to pull the game within three. Shawne Alston capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown, running over his own offensive lineman, Tyler Rader, in the process.
On the next drive, Louisville faced a fourth-and-one on the West Virginia 43. Dominique Brown appeared to be stopped short but spun off a defender for two yards and a fresh set of downs.
Brown then added a 3-yard touchdown to cap the drive, putting the Cardinals up 10 with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter. The drive covered 66 yards and took 7:03 off the clock.
After West Virginia scored once more on a 65-yard drive in 59 seconds to pull within three once more, Brown recovered the onside kick to seal the win.