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Louisville falls short at Pitt, 23-20

The Panther defense is worthy of the hype.

Louisville v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The much ballyhooed Pitt Panther defense lived up to the hype Saturday afternoon, holding Louisville to just 223 yards of total offense in a frustrating 23-20 defeat for the Cardinals.

Coming off a rough outing a week ago at Miami, U of L’s defense did more than enough to put the team in position to pull off a road upset of the 21st-ranked team in America. The Cardinals limited Pitt to less than 300 yards of total offense and held the Panthers to just three points in the second half, but their counterparts on offense were unable to capitalize when it mattered the most.

Malik Cunningham was roughed up by the Pittsburgh front seven all afternoon. The Cardinal QB, who was rarely working with a clean pocket, went just 9-of-21 through the air for 107 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.

Adding to Cunningham’s (and all of our) frustration was four or five plays where he had TuTu Atwell very open for what would have been easy touchdowns. The pair was never able to connect for the big play that always felt like it was on the precipice of happening.

Cunningham was carted off the field following Louisville’s final offensive play of the game after suffering what appeared to be a head injury. We’ll pass along word of his status whenever U of L announces it.

Cardinal running back Javian Hawkins also felt the wrath of the Pitt defense. The speedy sophomore got loose for a 75-yard touchdown scamper in the first half, but gained just three yards on his other 12 carries. If you take Hawkins’ touchdown out of the equation, Louisville finished with 29 rushes for only 41 yards.

Louisville has now lost back-to-back games for the first time under Scott Satterfield. Before Saturday, Satterfield coached teams hadn’t lost in consecutive weeks since 2017.

Also of note: The Cards dropped to 1-7 under Satterfield when losing the turnover battle, which they did by a final count of 3-2. Louisville is 8-0 under Satterfield when giving the ball away fewer times than their opponents.

This one is going to sting for a while, both figuratively and — if you were a player who had to go up against that hard-hitting Panther defense for four quarters — literally. Pitt probably outplayed Louisville for most of the afternoon, but the visitors still had plenty of opportunities to “steal” a road win over a nationally-ranked opponent. Instead, they head back to the Derby City 0-2 in the ACC and needing this upcoming bye week to pick themselves up off the proverbial mat.