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Louisville hangs on to upset No. 24 West Virginia

Nov 5, 2011 - 10:48 PM Morgantown, WV (Sports Network) - Dominique Brown ran for a three-yard touchdown with 1:50 remaining and the Louisville Cardinals hung on for a 38-35 upset of the 24th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Cardinals took a 38-28 lead on Brown's touchdown run, but the Mountaineers responded with 43 seconds left as Geno Smith hit Stedman Bailey for a one- yard score.

Brown, though, recovered the ensuing onsides kick to seal Louisville's third straight win.

Teddy Bridgewater completed 21-of-27 passes for 246 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Cardinals (5-4, 3-1 Big East), while true freshman Andrew Johnson returned a blocked field goal 82 yards for a fourth-quarter score.

"Our football team played very well today," said Cardinals coach Charlie Strong. "We went on the road and won a tough game here."

Smith threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns and Shawne Alston ran for a pair of scores for the Mountaineers (6-3, 2-2), who have dropped two of their last three games.

Louisville's defense and special teams set the tone in the second half.

Early in the third quarter, Hakeem Smith forced a West Virginia fumble and Mike Evans recovered for the Cardinals, resulting in Chris Philpott's 39-yard field goal and a 24-21 advantage.

The Mountaineers were poised to tie the game on the opening play of the fourth, but Tyler Bitancurt, who missed a 32-yarder earlier, had his field goal attempt blocked and Johnson returned the loose ball 82 yards for a touchdown and a 31-21 lead.

Smith fumbled on West Virginia's next possession, but atoned after a Louisville punt, connecting with Ivan McCartney for a 46-yard completion before Alston's seven-yard touchdown run made it a 31-28 game with 9:01 remaining.

The Cardinals, though, leaned on Brown to seal their first win at Mountaineer Field since 1990.

The sophomore converted a 4th-and-1 near midfield with 5:08 remaining to extend the team's next drive, then plunged across the goal line from three yards out for the decisive score.

"I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," said Strong. "We knew we had to play well. It was all about us coming in here to win the football game. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win."

West Virginia's special teams struggled late but they began the game with a spark, as Brad Starks returned the opening kickoff 62 yards to the Louisville 30. Smith hit Austin for a 25-yard touchdown three plays later for an early 7-0 advantage.

The rest of the quarter belonged to the Cardinals, however, as Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry reeled of touchdown runs of eight and 13 yards for a 14-7 lead.

The Mountaineers tied the game early in the second quarter on Bailey's five- yard touchdown grab. The 76-yard scoring drive was extended by Austin's nine- yard rush on 3rd-and-5.

The WVU defense then forced a three-and-out, stuffing Brown on 3rd-and-short, and Alston put the home team on top, 21-14, with a two-yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive.

The scoring march was again highlighted by a crucial 3rd-and-5 conversion, as Smith hit Bailey for 10 yards to the Louisville two.

Towards the end of the half, WVU's Mike Molinari foreshadowed the team's second-half struggles with an 11-yard punt. The Cardinals received the ball near midfield and capitalized with Eli Rogers' four-yard touchdown grab for a 21-21 tie at the break.

"We couldn't punt, couldn't kick and we just lost the battle," said Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen.

Game Notes

Louisville hadn't beaten West Virginia at Mountaineer Field since a 9-7 win in 1990. The Cardinals are now 2-7 all-time in Morgantown...The Cardinals have won three straight Big East games for the first time since 2006... The Mountaineers had won four straight over the Cardinals.