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Louisville avoids letdown, wins at Kansas St

Sep 23, 2006 - 7:27 PM MANHATTAN, Kansas (Ticker) -- Bobby Petrino did not allow his team to have a letdown.

Getting contributions from offense, defense and special teams, eighth-ranked Louisville posted a methodical 24-6 victory over Kansas State in the first meeting between the schools.

Louisville was coming off an impressive 31-7 victory over then-No.17 Miami last weekend, but lost starting quarterback Brian Brohm for up to six weeks with sprained ligaments in his right thumb. The Cardinals already were without running back Michael Bush, who is out for the year with a broken leg suffered in the season opener.

But Petrino has put together a team that is not heavily reliant on its two offensive stars. With Hunter Cantwell at quarterback and Kolby Smith and George Stripling splitting carries in the backfield, the Cardinals (4-0) totaled 401 yards in offense.

The defense recorded two interceptions and shut down Kansas State's running game until Thomas Clayton scored on a 69-yard run with 13:22 left in the fourth quarter.

A 53-yard interception return by safety Jon Russell set up a 25-yard field goal by Arthur Carmody with 4:17 left in the second quarter. Later in the quarter, cornerback William Gay intercepted a pass at the Louisville 2 and returned it 31 yards to end a scoring threat for the Wildcats (3-1), who scored a total of 92 points in their first three games.

"It was a good win," Petrino said. "I'm especially happy with the way the defense played. They played fast and aggressive. And our special teams was solid."

Special teams produced two big plays for Louisville - a 39-yard run by Nate Harris off a fake field goal in the first quarter and a blocked field goal by Malik Jackson in the third quarter.

"Everyone was talking about a letdown," Harris said. "We knew we weren't going to come in here and let down after a big win against Miami. Coming into this hostile environment against Kansas State, we just came out here and executed our plays."

Cantwell completed 18-of-26 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Smith and Stripling combined to rush for 126 yards on 30 carries. Fullback Brock Bolen added 53 yards on just five carries, including a 17-yard touchdown with 14:19 left in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals started the game with a 12-play, 97-yard drive. Cantwell completed all four of his passes for 49 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown to Harry Douglas 6:34 into the game.

Carmody's field goal after Russell's interception return increased the lead to 10-0 at halftime.

Louisville held the Wildcats to just eight yards rushing in the first half.

The Cardinals drove 72 yards in eight plays on their first possession of the third quarter. Bolen broke free for a 26-yard run and Cantwell hit Smith with a 19-yard pass. Stripling capped it with a one-yard touchdown run with 10:11 left in the third quarter, increasing the lead to 17-0.

Kansas State's Dylan Meier completed just 14-of-33 passes for 121 yards with an interception before he was replaced late in the third quarter.

"They have a pretty good pass rush and their blitzing caused problems," Meier said. "We have to get better for the Big 12 (Conference) games."

Coach Ron Prince made the quarterback switch after Marcus Watts picked off an underthrown pass by Cantwell and returned it 58 yards to the Louisville 19. But freshman Josh Freeman was sacked for a five-yard loss on a third-down play and Jackson blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt by Jeff Snodgrass.

Three plays later, Bolen scored on a 17-yard run to increase the lead to 24-0.

"They have a mighty good team," Prince said of Louisville. "They really have no weakness. This was the fourth of our non-conference games and it gives us an assessment of where we are as a team before the Big 12."

Clayton had rushed for just 13 yards on seven carries before busting up the middle for his 69-yard touchdown.

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