Sun, Oct 08, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Louisville survives early scare at Middle Tennessee

UNEXPECTED While the final score was not close, the Blue Raiders jumped out to a first-quarter lead before the Cardinals woke up their passing game

AP , NASHVILLE

Louisville linebacker Preston Smith, No. 6, catches up to Middle Tennessee running back Eugene Gross, No. 20, in the second quarter of their college football game on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee.

PHOTO: AP

Quarterback Hunter Cantwell threw for a career-high 340 yards and three touchdowns on Friday night to lead No. 8 Louisville to a 44-17 win over Middle Tennessee.

Two of Cantwell's tosses went to Mario Urrutia, who finished with four receptions for 132 yards as the Cardinals overcame some early miscues to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1993.

The Blue Raiders (3-3) dropped to 0-11 all-time against ranked opponents, but made the Cardinals work a little harder than they expected to.

Middle Tennessee led 10-3 after an 88-yard kickoff return by Damon Nickson and Colby Smith's 23-yard field goal.

The seven-point deficit matched Louisville's largest of the season. Middle Tennessee's lead almost grew to 10 points late in the first quarter, but Smith's 47-yard field goal attempt clanged off the left upright.

The reprieve seemed to wake up the Cardinals and two plays later the game was tied after Urrutia caught a quick slant from Cantwell and turned it into a 68-yard touchdown.

Two field goals by Art Carmody pushed Louisville's lead to 16-10 before Urrutia and Cantwell hooked up again on a beautiful 25-yard touchdown with just eight seconds left in the half. Cantwell threw the ball to the left corner of the end zone and the 2m Urrutia outjumped two Blue Raiders for the score.

It took awhile for the Cardinals to feel at home as the Blue Raiders contained Louisville's running game early and pressured Cantwell into an erratic opening quarter.

At one point he missed on five straight passes and also fell awkwardly on his left knee after being hit while throwing. Cantwell slowly pulled himself up and walked to the sideline but showed no ill effects. It was good news for the Cardinals, who are already playing without starting quarterback Brian Brohm. He injured his right (throwing) hand in the win over Miami on Sept. 16.

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