Much like the basketball teams did earlier this year, the football team followed suit in wearing the white Muhammad Ali inspired jerseys in Saturday’s game against Boston College.
The game itself served as a subtle homage to The Greatest. It resembled that of Ali-Frazier and Ali-Foreman. Both teams slugged it out for four quarters, but it would be the Cardinals (3-2, 1-1 ACC) coming out on top in a 41-39 victory over Boston College (3-3, 1-2).
Boston College came out swinging with proverbial haymakers on the first drive, getting down to a goal-to-go situation and looking to put early points on the board. Louisville’s Monty Montgomery, though, had other ideas as he recovered his own forced fumble to give Louisville the ball at a crucial time.
Louisville’s offense would respond in kind with a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Micale Cunningham. Yes, that would be the artist (maybe formerly?) known as Malik Cunningham; he made note that he is now going by his given first name.
The next two drives were capped off by long pass plays from both the Eagles and Cardinals. Anthony Brown hit tight end Hunter Long on a 72-yard pass down the middle to tie the game at 7-7. Louisville would then take a 14-7 lead after Cunningham found Seth Dawkins deep on a corner route for a 59-yard touchdown.
Boston College quarterback Anthony Brown had gotten off to a blazing start, going 6-for-7 with 193 yards and one touchdown. However, his day would end in the second quarter as he suffered an injury. Backup quarterback Dennis Grosel stepped up and picked up where Brown had left off, hitting Korab Idrizi for a ten-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 14-14.
Louisville scored two touchdowns on their next two drives, with Javian Hawkins (three yards) and Hassan Hall (six yards) both rushing in for scores.
But Boston College would answer with another touchdown pass from Dennis Grosel, as he hit Kobay White for a 13-yard strike. A two-point conversion by Boston College was successful, and that cut Louisville’s lead to 28-22. Louisville had a chance at a 45-yard field goal from Blanton Creque at the end of the first half, but it bounced off the left upright and was no good.
Boston College would get its first lead of the day after Grosel connected with Idrizi again on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 9:57 left in the third quarter. Louisville, however, took back the lead on their next drive as Blanton Creque hit a 34-yard field goal.
And much like Boston College, Louisville had to go to its backup in the most crucial moments. Micale Cunningham was on and off the field for stretches in the second half, and backup Evan Conley took over for some of the drives.
The freshman showed a ton of poise and hit some of the biggest plays in the game when Louisville needed him for it. Conley hit Dez Fitzpatrick for a 23-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that put Louisville up 38-29. The Cards then managed to get their first interception of the season, as Anthony Johnson robbed an errant throw from Grosel.
Unfortunately, Louisville wasn’t able to capitalize and turn their next drive into points. That would lead to Boston College scoring on back-to-back drives to take the lead. The Eagles got a touchdown on the first drive with a 37-yard end around from Travis Levy, and Aaron Boumerhi hit a 45-yard field goal with 3:32 left to take a 39-38 lead.
Evan Conley would come out for the final drive, and aided by big runs from Javian Hawkins, got the Cardinals in position for a go-ahead field goal. He almost had a costly fumble during the drive, but Tyler Haycraft recovered it to keep the Louisville possession. Blanton Creque would go on to kick the go-ahead 41-yard field goal with 1:02 left to take a 41-39 lead. The Cardinals defense would go on to stop Boston College on fourth-and-two with two seconds left to close out their first conference victory since November 2017.
This game was an offensive slugfest throughout, with both teams combining for 80 points, 1,227 yards, and both averaging over seven yards per play (Boston College 7.2, Louisville 8.5). Neither Louisville nor Boston College tallied a sack in the game.
Both Micale Cunningham (13-of-18, 288 yards, one touchdown) and Evan Conley (10-of-16, 140 yards, one touchdown) combined for 428 passing yards as a team, averaging 18.6 yards per completion. Cunningham hit a new career-high in passing yards for the third straight game.
Also reaching career highs were running back Javian Hawkins (25 carries, 172 yards, one touchdown) and wide receiver Seth Dawkins (six catches, 170 yards, one touchdown). Tutu Atwell (eight catches, 110 yards) and Dez Fitzpatrick (five catches, 108 yards, one touchdown) also topped the century mark, making it the third time in Louisville history that three receivers topped 100+ yards receiving.
Louisville had double digit tackle totals from safeties Khane Pass (12) and Russ Yeast (11), with Anthony Johnson recording the first interception of the season. Johnson’s pick was part of Louisville’s two forced turnovers, huge plays that ultimately kept Louisville in position to win it late.
Boston College was not far behind their opponent in terms of offensive prowess, either. The Eagles tallied a season-high in passing yards (304), aided by a strong early performance from starter Anthony Brown (6-of-7, 193 yards, one touchdown). Backup Dennis Grosel finished 9-of-24 for 111 yards and three touchdowns, with Hunter Long (three catches, 99 yards, one touchdown) leading Boston College in receiving.
AJ Dillon had his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game, tallying 118 yards on 22 carries. Dillon was held in check for a majority of the game with 52 yards entering the fourth quarter, but some big runs by him were key in keeping Boston College’s drives alive. The Eagles tallied 259 rushing yards with 5.8 yards per carry.
Louisville now heads on the road to face undefeated Wake Forest next Saturday. The Cardinals and the Deacons do battle at 7:30 p.m. ET on the ACC Network.