No. 19 Louisville holds off Houston, 20-13

With each carry, Dominique Brown showed a hard-charging

aggression that defenders were powerless to stop.

Most important was that he showed that talent and durability

when Louisville needed them most.

Brown ran for a career-high 137 yards and two touchdowns,

including the go-ahead score in the third quarter, and No. 19

Louisville held on to beat Houston 20-13 on Saturday night.

Listless on both sides of the ball and trailing 13-10 at

halftime, Louisville turned to Brown, who carried 11 times in the

third quarter for 50 yards and a 3-yard touchdown. He finished with

27 carries.

”My hat’s off to the offensive line,” Brown said. ”The tight

ends and receivers did a great job of springing me for the long

runs.

”When a running back gets the momentum, you got to keep running

him.”

Louisville’s defense meanwhile awakened to hold the Cougars

(7-3, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) to 41 second-half yards and

help the Cardinals (9-1, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) win

their third straight game and stay within reach of first-place

Central Florida.

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater completed 19-of-29 passes for 209

yards but had his streak of 21 games with a touchdown pass end at

21. DeVante Parker had four receptions for 72 yards, including a

39-yarder that set up Brown’s second TD run.

John Wallace kicked field goals of 37 and 39 yards for the

Cardinals, who outgained the Cougars 332-195 and just 15 on the

ground.

”At halftime we made an adjustment to stop the run,”

linebacker James Burgess said. ”There wasn’t much they could do

once we stopped the run.”

Brown had been building toward his career game in recent weeks,

posting his first 100-yard game at South Florida last month to

become the primary back that Louisville has sought all season after

using a rotation that included Senorise Perry and former Auburn

star Michael Dyer.

Against Houston, Brown started both halves with game-changing

plays.

After capping Louisville’s first drive with a 13-yard touchdown

run, the junior provided a 17-13 lead with his second TD run on the

opening possession of the second half, just the spark that the

Cardinals needed following a lethargic second quarter. Louisville

held the ball for 12:24 in the period, and Houston never

recovered.

”If we’re going to hold an opponent to 20 points, we feel like

we’re in a good chance to win the football game with what we do

offensively,” Houston coach Tony Levine said. ”I felt like we had

opportunities, we had possessions offensively to get that done, and

we just didn’t.”

Brown’s second TD led to frustration for Houston safety Adrian

McDonald, who was ejected for punching Louisville offensive lineman

Kamran Joyer several times on the play.

The game marked Louisville’s first Saturday night contest in

five years and its first meeting against Houston since a 65-27

victory in 2004 – their second straight 60-point performance

against the Cougars.

Houston looked poised to jump on the Cardinals right away when

Demarcus Ayers returned the opening kickoff 61 yards with the help

of five missed tackles, and the Cougars moved 11 yards for a first

down at the Louisville 28. After three straight incompletions, they

gambled on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal into the

wind, but John O’Korn’s slant pass to Xavier Maxwell came up 5

yards short.

Brown’s running quickly got the Cardinals on the board, carrying

seven times for 44 yards, including the touchdown run off left

tackle. Wallace’s first field goal two drives later put Louisville

up 10-0.

Houston needed just two drives to tie the game, driving 48 yards

for Kyle Bullard’s 46-yard field goal and 60 yards ending in

Kenneth Farrow’s 4-yard run with 6:35 left before halftime. Those

drives were telling as the Cougars’ no-huddle offense seemed to

confuse the Cardinals’ defense, which struggled to keep up.

Defensively, Houston succeeded in pressuring Bridgewater,

sacking him twice and keeping him on the run at other times.

Two key plays helped the Cougars take a 13-10 lead. The first

was Michaelee Harris’ muffed punt recovered at the Louisville 39 by

Trevon Stewart, who entered leading the nation with eight

turnovers.

Louisville appeared to escape damage when Hakeem Smith

intercepted O’Korn’s tipped pass at the 15 and returned it to the

35. But Cardinals defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin was penalized for

roughing O’Korn, wiping out the turnover and setting up first down

at the 24 and leading to Bullard’s 22-yard field goal with 25

seconds left in the half.

The Cardinals quickly snatched the momentum away from the

Cougars with Brown leading the way.

”We got kind of complacent and got comfortable,” Louisville

coach Charlie Strong said of the first half. ”Offensively, we

didn’t do a good job of continuing to move the football…

”I told (Brown) we were going to ride him, and that’s what you

like to see happen.”