By Josh Cook
Down! Set! Hike!
Here is quick look back at the weekend that was for the University of Louisville football team.
The Cardinals picked up their first victory of the season, and the first victory of the Charlie Strong Era, with a 23-13 victory over Eastern Kentucky University to bounce back from a Week One loss to archrival Kentucky.
UofL scored all of its points in the second quarter - highlighted by the first career touchdown of beloved senior wide receiver Doug Beaumont - to lead 23-0 at intermission. The Colonels closed within 10 with a little more than two minutes to play, then recovered their own onside kick before their comeback was thwarted by an interception.
The Cards outgained EKU 388 yards to 230, but their offense was ineffective in the second half. A plenitude of penalties - UofL was flagged 11 times for 100 yards - helped keep the Cards’ offense out of sync. Senior quarterback Adam Froman completed 15 of 23 passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception that was returned 80 yards for a TD. Senior running back Bilal Powell rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns, while junior running back Vic Anderson accounted for 143 all-purpose yards. Beaumont recorded four catches for 83 yards, including his aforementioned TD. Senior defensive end Rodney Gnat was the star on defense with seven total tackles, including four quarterback sacks and one forced fumble.
TOP 3 PLAYS
1. Facing first-and-10 from the EKU 42 late in the second quarter Froman threw a 42-yard bomb to Beaumont, the Male High School graduate who had 106 receptions in his career without reaching the end zone...until then.
2. On the first play of the second period Froman found 6-foot-9 tight end Josh Chichester for a 20-yard gain to the EKU 2. The junior tight end, who doesn’t have the best reputation for hanging onto the football, fumbled the ball at the end of the play. Luckily for Louisville, though, the EKU player who recovered the ball was out of bounds when he did so, giving the ball back to the Cards. On the next play Powell scored the first of his two touchdowns to give UofL a 7-0 lead.
3. After a pretty successful freshman season in 2009 - he was the team’s second-leading rusher - Darius Ashley was moved from the offensive backfield to the defensive backfield in the spring. The sophomore preserved the Cards’ victory with his interception - the first of his career - of EKU QB Brendon Gregory with 1:57 to play.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I told somebody before the game, if I don’t score against EKU it’s probably not meant to be. The plays we had in for me this week I knew we had to at least get one of them in,” Beaumont said.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK II
“Mr. Reliable: that is what he is,” Strong said of Beaumont. “He is involved in every kicking play, he is on punt, on punt return, he's on kickoff and kickoff returns. He scores a touchdown and didn't get a chance to celebrate because he had to run back down on kickoff. I told him he could spike it, but he didn't hear me and he said, `Coach I forgot.' I was just so happy for him. It was (one of Froman’s better passes.) He laid it out there for him and Beaumont ran underneath it. And he made the catch and kind of ran away from the defensive back.”
Offensive Player of the Week - Powell. Beaumont and Froman were hot on his heels, but Powell gets the nod because he followed up his 153-yard performance against UK by rushing for 16 times for 92 yards (5.8 per carry) and two touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Week - Gnat. The 6-foot-3, 253-pound defensive end, who Strong nicknamed “Big Pretty” in the preseason, was as annoying as a gnat to EKU offensive lineman. The senior recorded a career-high four sacks (of UofL’s eight) of the Colonels’ two quarterbacks.
“I played baseball in high school, it’s a lot like hitting a home run,” Gnat said.
FIVE THINGS I THINK...
1. ...Louisville’s offense had a lot of people yawning in the second half.
2. ...it won’t be long before Anderson returns a kickoff for a touchdown.
3. ...the number of penalties committed by the Cards was crazy. They aren’t going to win many games when they do that.
4. ...I’m a little surprised that freshman quarterback Dominique Brown hasn’t played a down yet. It’s looking more and more like he might be redshirted. Then if that’s the case don’t be surprised if he becomes a Randall Cobb-type player when Seneca High School senior DaMarcus Smith becomes the Cards’ quarterback.
5. ...UofL will lose 35-7 at Oregon State on Saturday.
Photo courtesy UofLsports.com