LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dae Williams rushed for a pair of 1-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead score with 5:01 remaining, as Louisville rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat in-state rival Western Kentucky 20-17 on Saturday night.
Quarterback Malik Cunningham once again provided a huge lift for the Cardinals (2-1), rushing 21 times for 129 yards and completing 10 of 18 passes for 88 yards. He threw a 16-yard pass and had back-to-back carries for 22 yards on the pivotal drive. Williams added an 11-yard run to the 1 before scoring the winning TD.
WKU had one last chance and drove to Louisville’s 34 to set up Ryan Nuss’ 51-yard field goal attempt to tie the game. His low kick sailed wide right as time expired, leaving the Hilltoppers (0-3) with another close loss after holding a double-digit lead.
Louisville beat WKU for the 10th consecutive time in the series and gave coach Bobby Petrino the victory against the school he coached in 2013 before returning for a second stint with the Cardinals.
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Western Kentucky: Davis Shanley accounted for two touchdowns in relief of Steven Duncan and completed several key passes during a fourth-quarter drive ending in Nuss’ 35-yard field goal for a 17-13 edge. But the Hilltoppers once again squandered a first-half lead by allowing the Cardinals to regroup and outscore them 20-3 over the final 43 minutes. They blew a 21-0 lead in a 31-28 loss to FCS Maine last week.
Louisville: Cunningham might have made his strongest case to be the Cardinals’ starting quarterback by relieving Jawon Pass and bailing out a sluggish offense. At times he seemed to channel Heisman Trophy-winning predecessor Lamar Jackson with exciting runs before delivering timely passes. Special teams delivered a field goal leading to Williams’ first TD, while the defense held WKU after the Cardinals finally went ahead.
Western Kentucky continues non-conference play at Ball State on Sept. 22, seeking to break a 2-all series tie.
Louisville opens Atlantic Coast Conference play at Virginia on Sept. 22.
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