for this game

Louisville holds on to upend South Florida

Oct 26, 2008 - 1:10 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- In a battle between two of the top-three ranked quarterbacks in the Big East Conference, Hunter Cantwell came out on top.

Cantwell tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Scott Long midway through the fourth quarter that lifted Louisville to its third victory in a row, a 24-20 upset over 14th-ranked South Florida on Saturday.

"It was a big win, a big win for the program, a big win for the city," Cantwell said.

The 6-4 Cantwell outdueled South Florida's Matt Grothe, who brought the Bulls back from behind once but couldn't repeat the feat in the game's waning minutes.

With South Florida trailing with just over three minutes remaining, Grothe avoided a heavy rush and got a pass off, but Louisville sophomore cornerback Johnny Patrick dove in front of it for a game-changing interception.

"I thought (Grothe) was courageous, I thought he played extremely well. When he threw the interception, he was just trying so hard to make something happen, I almost can't fault him," South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt said. "I know you can't throw the interception, but that poor guy was just, vowing for life, he didn't want to take a sack. I am just so proud of Matt Grothe."

The Cardinals (5-2, 1-1 Big East) caught a break on their ensuing drive. After being stopped on third down, Ryan Payne misfired on a 36-yard field-goal attempt that would have given the Cardinals a 27-20 lead. However, South Florida was called for holding, nullifying the miss and giving Louisville a first down to seal the win.

"There were a couple of situations in the game where it looked like they had a chance to recapture the momentum," Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "We had it a couple of times and gave it back to them a little bit, but our guys found a way and that's what it's all about."

Cantwell, in his first season as the team's starter following three years on the sideline, found Long for a 69-yard score in the second quarter to give the Cardinals a 7-3 lead, then added a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 14-3.

Cantwell finished 12-of-21 for 213 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception. Long hauled in five passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns - the first two of his collegiate career.

"It was great to come out there and make some plays for my team," Long said. "That was such a big game on a big stage like this. It was a good feeling."

"He was a gamebreaker. He got to go out there and show that today," Cantwell said. "He's a big physical wide receiver who's very fast, and that combination you don't find everywhere ... I think he provided a spark today that we needed."

The Cardinals squandered an 11-point lead as the Bulls (6-2, 1-2) came back to take a 20-17 lead in the fourth thanks to Grothe's efforts. The junior found Richard Kelly for a 3-yard score to pull South Florida to within one, then put the Bulls on top with a 15-yard touchdown to Ben Busbee.

Grothe completed 30-of-41 passes for 343 yards but threw a pair of interceptions after entering the contest with three all season.

"I think we did a great job going after him," Louisville defensive lineman Earl Heyman said. "We just got in the mindset that we had to stop them. We knew Grothe can make great plays, he'd been showing us all night, spreading us out throwing underneath routes. He was doing a great job staying poised and in the pocket."