Louisville beats Miami to clinch program’s first ACC Championship game bid
MIAMI, Fla. (WAVE) -For the first time since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013, the Louisville football team will be competing for a conference championship thanks to a 38-31 win at Miami on Saturday.
It took until the very end before the Cards could exhale and celebrate as Tyler Van Dyke’s Hail Mary bounced into the hands of receiver Xavier Restrepo, but Quincey Riley made the game-saving touchdown to seal the win.
Jack Plummer found Nate Kurisky for a two-yard touchdown to open the game, but Miami answered back with 14 unanswered points to take the lead. Prior to Saturday, UofL’s defense had only allowed seven first quarter points all year.
The Canes’ lead only lasted three minutes before Isaac Guerendo scored from 12 yards out to tie it. Guerendo finished with a team-high 93 yards on 15 carries.
From then, the teams traded scores.
Brashard Smith broke a 34-yard run for a touchdown midway through the second quarter and Trevonte Sylvester caught a one-yard pass from Plummer off a play-action fake, but a blocked extra point meant Miami entered the half with a one-point lead.
After a missed field goal and the blocked extra point, the Cards made the switch to Nick Lopez as the place kicker for the second half and he immediately was tested from 40 yards out. He connected to put UofL up 23-21.
Mark Fletcher, Jr. found the end zone for the second time to put the Hurricanes back on top 28-23, which was the score heading into the fourth.
Evan Conley dove into the end zone to complete a five-yard run and Plummer found Jamari Thrash for the two-point conversion to put the Cards back up by three. Miami kicker Andres Borregales nailed a kick from 51 yards out to tie the game.
Just over a minute later, Plummer connected with Kevin Coleman for a 58-yard go-ahead touchdown that eventually became the game winner.
Plummer finished with 308 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Four different receivers had over 50 yards.
For the Cards, the win puts them in the ACC Conference Championship for the first time in program history. The Cards were co-champions of the Atlantic Division in 2016, when the conference was still split into two divisions, but lost the tiebreaker to eventual National Champions Clemson.
Louisville hasn’t won a conference championship since its Big East days under head coach Charlie Strong. In 2012, Louisville was in a four-way tie for the Big East title, but earned the BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl due to being the highest ranked team in the final BCS Poll. That year, they upset Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The year before, it was a three-way tie for the Cards, but they did not earn a BCS bowl bid.
The last outright conference title for UofL came in 2006 under Bobby Petrino.
The win also gives UofL the Schnellenberger Trophy in its first year of existence. The trophy was created this year and features a bronzed pair of western dress boots worn by coach Howard Schnellenberger who led both programs to national prominence during his tenures. He coached at Miami from 1979-83 and UofL from 1985-94.
Up next for Louisville is the Governor’s Cup. The Cards host Kentucky on Nov. 25.
After that, the focus shifts to the Florida State Seminoles and the ACC Championship Game. That game will kick off at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 2. At 8 p.m.
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