The Louisville Cardinals entered the Bounce House under the Friday night lights in an attempt to best the supposed 2017 National Champions and prove their mettle to Card Nation. An abysmal, low energy debut against Syracuse had many with their tickets already halfway in the rubbish bin amid calls for Scott Satterfield’s head.

With vim and vigor the Cardinals won the toss and elected to receive. Despite minor mistakes, including offensive pass interference, Malik Cunningham moved like the Malik we’ve come to know. A demonstration of the Cardinals capabilities more in line with the fan’s expectations was capped by a Tiyon Evans seven-yard rush and the Cards were first to strike.

Unfortunately the Cardinals defense was not as agitated and Mario Satterfield’s perpetual nemesis Isaiah Bowser was permitted to kidnap the princess twice unanswered. Rushing TD’s from two and three yards respectively had the Cards on their heels and the Knights firmly in control.

As Louisville drives continued to stagnate, a missed field goal and fumble added to the woes. As halftime approached, John Rhys Plumlee tossed a 57 yard rainbow for what seemed to be a third TD and the beginning of another rout. Yet despite having three blockers assigned to one defensive end the Knights managed to commit a holding penalty which restored some life to the Cardinals’ hopes. UCF was stopped and repaid the missed field goal in kind, and the score remained 7-14 in favor of the Knights at halftime.

This, of course, boggles the mind considering Louisville and UCF combined for 562 yards of offense with fairly even numbers. What appeared to be a dominant UCF performance to the eyes was instead an even match when viewed by the numbers.

Perhaps those offensive numbers put a jolt into, at the very least, the Cardinals defense. The Knights offense that began sputtering at the end of the first half was ground to a halt in the third quarter. Held scoreless, UCF was unable to meet the challenge.

Another field goal (made this time) drew the Cards to within three before Louisville finally broke one loose. Malik’s movement and key blocking set him free for a 43 yard jaunt to the house. Another field goal with 10 minutes to play saw a trickle of formerly raucous students heading to the exits.

In the end, Plumlee and Bowser could not answer the Cardinals offensive onslaught. Despite threatening late in the fourth quarter a spectacular interception all but sealed the Knights’ fate. A few last gaps proved insufficient and Louisville notched just the third win ever against UCF in the friendly confines of the Bounce House.

But speaking of that interception, much due credit to the Cardinals’ defense with 10 stops to finish the game. Coach Bryan Brown entered the post-game press conference holding the game ball with obvious pride.

The Cardinals could have faced Florida State at 0-2 with a demoralized fan base and a coach facing an increasingly angry mob, if not walking papers. Instead they leave Orlando with renewed energy and a major confidence building win. Does it erase the Syracuse game? Absolutely not. But it definitely evens the scales. First game of the rest of the season next week. Cardinals vs. Seminoles.

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Occasional podcast producer, occasional videographer, talentless hanger-on.

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