Posted at 6:41 p.m., Thursday, September 6, 2007
CFB: Brohm throws for 5 TDs in Louisville's 58-42 win
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Middle Tennessee almost made sure the eighth-ranked Cardinals had to tonight.
Brohm threw for a career-high 401 yards and five touchdowns and running back Anthony Allen ran for a school-record 275 yards and two scores as Louisville survived a major scare 58-42.
"We deal with adversity well," Brohm said. "I think these guys kept their heads up and on offense we said, 'Keep scoring.' That's going to be our motto all year."
If Louisville's defense can't play better than it did against the Blue Raiders, it better be.
Despite Brohm being at his efficient best, the Blue Raiders (0-2) who managed all of 217 yards in a season-opening loss to Florida Atlantic nearly matched the high-powered Cardinals in a game that featured 1,284 yards from scrimmage, 13 touchdowns and little defense from either side.
"We can't tackle the way we did tonight and be a good team," said Louisville defensive end Earl Heyman.
Still, the Cardinals (2-0) escaped because the defense managed to right itself enough in the second half to allow Louisville to extend the nation's second-longest home winning streak to 20 games.
"We made the big plays when we needed to make them," said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. "It's not exactly the way we wanted to play in every phase, but the bottom line is winning."
Joe Craddock threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns and Phillip Tanner added 144 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Blue Raiders, who never backed down against a Louisville defense trying to replace seven starters.
"We are going to fight and never give up," said Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill. "We didn't spend a lot of time looking at the scoreboard."
Good thing, it might have given him whiplash.
Mario Urrutia, Gary Barnidge and Harry Douglas all topped 100 yards receiving as Louisville rolled up 729 yards of total offense and held onto the ball for more than 38 minutes.
With a showdown against archrival Kentucky looming next week, Kragthorpe placed mouse traps around the team's locker room to remind his players not to get caught looking past the Blue Raiders.
The Cardinals may have avoided the traps in the locker room, but the defense spent most of the first half stepping in them on the field.
"We weren't getting lined up quickly enough and they weren't ready to make plays," Kragthorpe said.
When Louisville opened the game with an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brohm to Barnidge on the first play from scrimmage, it took the Blue Raiders all of three plays for Craddock to hit DeMarco McNair for a 78-yard score. It was the opening salvo in a dizzying first five minutes that saw five touchdowns.
"They scored on their first play (and) it could be easy, maybe, to hang our head. But we're not going to do that," Stockstill said.
Things never really slowed down. Louisville scored on its first six possessions, but led only 38-35 at the break as the Blue Raiders baffled a Louisville defense that seemed out of position most of the time and unable to get its hands on the slippery Tanner.
Middle Tennessee kept responding so quickly that the Cardinals changed tactics, opting to grind it out behind Allen for most of the second half.
Allen, finally grabbing hold of a running back battle that's been up for grabs since training camp, responded with the best game of his career. Churning through the defense time and again, Allen appeared to grow stronger as the game wore on. His 35 carries were the most since Michael Bush ran 37 times against West Virginia in 2005.
"I thought I was a power runner," Allen said. "I run to the hole and try to run over people."
A 48-yard run in the fourth quarter set up a short touchdown pass from Brohm to Douglas, and Allen allowed the Cardinals to run out the clock after Malik Jackson picked off Craddock in the end zone with less than seven minutes to go.
While the Cardinals will head into next week's game against Kentucky undefeated, the Blue Raiders raised serious concerns about Louisville's defense. Middle Tennessee piled up 555 yards of total offense and averaged 10.1 yards per play.
"We had to fight to get the win," Allen said. "Our thing the whole week was to not fall into the trap. We didn't, and that's really all that matters."