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Louisville's defense responds with near-shutout

Nov 19, 2006 - 4:14 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Louisville's defense had the offense's back this time around.

Nine days after allowing 21 unanswered points in a stunning loss, the defense had six sacks while nearly recording its second shutout of the season as the 10th-ranked Cardinals rolled to a 31-8 Big East Conference victory over South Florida.

Brian Brohm threw two touchdowns to Harry Douglas, Anthony Allen ran for a pair of scores and tight end Gary Barnidge had five receptions for 112 yards for Louisville (9-1, 4-1 Big East), which won its 17th consecutive home game.

The Cardinals owned a 25-7 advantage in the second quarter against Rutgers on November 9 before the defense fell victim to two rushing TDs by Ray Rice and a pair of field goals by Jeremy Ito, including the game-winner from 28 yards with 13 seconds left.

"(This) was a good win for us," Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino said. "I'm really happy with how our players prepared all week. After the tough loss at Rutgers, the team showed tremendous character. It was a good, hard-fought contest and our players kept competing. We kept our offense in there and they started clicking."

The Cardinals nearly blanked the Bulls (7-4, 3-3), limited them to 49 yards on the ground and 286 total yards. Louisville shut out Temple on September 9.

"We knew going in that we had to put pressure on the quarterback (freshman Matt Grothe) and give them some different looks," Petrino said. "Even without blitzing, we were still able to put pressure on them. They have very fast receivers, and we did a nice job of holding them in check."

After a scoreless first period, Brohm - who completed 19-of-33 passes - capped an 10-play, 80-yard drive with a four-yard strike to Douglas 4:24 into the second quarter for a 7-0 edge. With 58 seconds left in the half, Arthur Carmody extended the lead to 10 points with a 47-yard field.

"Everybody got back into the rhythm of things," Brohm said. "The big thing early on, we didn't let a few early three-and-outs bother us. We stayed in the game and stayed positive and went out there and executed the rest of our game plan."

After Allen found the end zone from a yard out 4:54 into the third period for a 17-0 cushion, Brohm found Douglas again, this time from five yards to extend the margin.

Grothe threw for 237 yards and a touchdown against an interception for South Florida, which converted just 3-of-15 third downs.

"We didn't block very well, we didn't give Matt near enough time," Bulls coach Jim Leavitt said. "We dropped too many passes. We didn't play very good. I don't want to take anything away from Louisville. They are a good team, but we can't play like that and win. I am disappointed how we played. I thought we battled in the first half. It's just the second half really disappointed me in the way we didn't come out to play."

Louisville nearly got on the board in the first quarter, but Kolby Smith lost a fumble on the South Florida 1 after catching a 27-yard pass from Brohm.

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