‘Canes endure 36-9 Russell Bowl rout by Louisville

Miami spent the last two bowl seasons watching from home,

waiting for the day when it could begin trying to climb back to

prominence.

After being pounded in the Russell Athletic Bowl by future

Atlantic Coast Conference foe Louisville, it’s clear that

rebuilding process is not yet complete.

Teddy Bridgewater threw three touchdown passes and ran for

another score to help No. 18 Louisville rout the Hurricanes 36-9 on

Saturday night.

Miami coach Al Golden said despite the setback, the Hurricanes

aren’t going to stray too far from the foundation they’ve been

trying to build.

”We got beat in all three phases. There’s no excuses,” Golden

said. ”I’m going to evaluate the whole program, just like I do

every year. It’s not going to be any different. … We’re going to

keep moving it forward. We’re going to be resolute in that and

we’re not going to flinch with that.”

The Cardinals (12-1) spotted Miami (9-4) an early 2-0 lead, then

dominated the rest of the way, racking up 554 total yards to

Miami’s 174.

Miami, playing in its first bowl game since 2010, hasn’t had a

bowl victory since 2006, losing four straight. The Hurricanes were

returning to the postseason following a two-year, self-imposed ban

during an NCAA investigation.

They got on the scoreboard first with the safety. But it was one

of their few highlights.

The Hurricanes also were held under 10 points in a bowl game for

the first time since the 2005 Peach Bowl, a 40-3 loss to LSU.

”Obviously, it wasn’t the performance I wanted to have being my

last game, but I give credit to Louisville,” said quarterback

Stephen Morris, who was 12 for 27 for 160 yards. ”They had a great

defensive plan going. They were in the right spots at the right

time.”

With Cardinals’ fans chanting ”Teddy! Teddy!” at times

throughout the game, Bridgewater, projected to be a top NFL draft

pick if he comes out this summer, set a school season record with

31 touchdown passes. The Miami native also tied the school record

with his 27th victory as Louisville’s starter.

”It meant a lot because not only because I and so many other

guys going against our hometown school, but we were going against a

quality opponent,” he said. ”That’s what we’ve been waiting for

all year…That’s why you play the game, to compete.”

He was 35 for 45 for career-high 447 yards.

Louisville won its second straight bowl game for its second

12-win season.

On the stage during the postgame trophy presentation

Bridgewater, the game’s MVP, was showered again by Louisville fans

who beckoned him with ”One more year!” overtures.

Louisville coach Charlie Strong said throughout the week that he

was banking on his defense to help spark the Cardinals’ offense. It

responded with one of its best efforts of the season.

A big second quarter by the Cardinals, punctuated by

Bridgewater’s two touchdown passes helped Louisville take a 22-2

lead.

The Cardinals settled for field goals early after struggling to

convert on third downs inside Hurricanes’ territory. That coincided

with one of Bridgewater’s top third-down targets – receiver DeVante

Parker – going down on the Louisville’s second series of the night

with an ankle injury.

But those fortunes changed quickly when Parker returned in the

second quarter after getting his ankle attended to by the training

staff.

He immediately caught three passes on a seven-play, 80-yard

drive, including a capping 26-yard touchdown reception. Parker

finished with nine catches for 142 yards.

Miami’s next possession appeared to have stalled near midfield,

but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty kept it going and eventually

set up the Hurricanes with second-and-goal on the 5.

Morris dropped back to pass, but was grabbed and lost the ball

as he was slung to the ground by Cardinals defensive end Marcus

Smith. The loose ball was then recovered by Louisville’s Brandon

Dunn to end the threat.

Louisville got it again with just under 2 minutes to play and

drove 60 yards for another touchdown, scoring on Bridgewater’s

12-yard pass to Michael Harris.

Golden said he’s already ready to turn the page.

”Again, at the end of the day, we’re going to continue to

recruit, continue to develop, but in terms of the young kids in our

program and everything, I don’t want to trade the young kids. I

want to keep going. I want to keep moving forward.

”I just think overall, I think it’s really important that every

coach, every unit, every player, everybody is evaluated and I’ll

start that probably tomorrow.”

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