ORLANDO, Fla. — — Malik Cunningham used his arm and his legs to make Louisville’s season on track.
The redshirt senior quarterback threw for 195 yards and rushed for 121 more, including a 43-yard scoring run in the third quarter, to lead Louisville to a 20-14 victory over UCF on Friday night.
“(Running) just opens up another dimension of our offense,” Cunningham said. “We have great runners and to add my legs and my arm to that … that’s something we’ve done the last three years.”
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said he told Cunningham he would back him hard against UCF.
“I had to let Malik be who he is,” Satterfield said. “We didn’t really let him loose last week and that’s on me. This week we let him play his game.”
“To win the way we did was great,” Satterfield said. “It was tough, it was hard fought and our defense played outstanding. Central Florida is a great program and they won a lot of games here.”
UCF (1-1) scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, but struggled to score much the rest of the way. The Knights had their best scoring chance with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter but a quarterback John Rhys Plumlee It was caught in the end zone of Jarvis Brownlee on fourth-and-goal from the 5.
“It’s not the end of the world as far as our season is concerned,” Cavaliers coach Gus Malzahn said. “But it feels like crap right now.”
Plumlee was 16-for-34 passing for 131 yards and rushing for 83 yards, but he was sacked four times. Isaiah Bowser rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
UCF was penalized 11 times for 111 yards.
“That’s on me,” Malzahn said. “We are an undisciplined football team.”
Louisville defensive lineman Jermayne Lole missed Friday’s game with an injury and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Cardinals defensive coordinator Bryan Brown said the rest of the defensive line wanted to honor him with a strong performance. “They saw one of their brothers fall and that inspired them,” Brown said. “This is a close group and they play for each other.”
THE GREAT CHOICE
Brownlee, a transfer from Florida State, was assigned an inside position at Knights wide receiver Jaylon Griffin and fought him for the football while staying inside. “We knew they were going to come out with something tough,” Cardinals safety Kendrick Duncan said “We just executed. Jarvis knew where he had to be and he did his job.”
Cunningham has made 37 consecutive starts, a school record for quarterbacks … UCF lost at home for just the third time in the past 34 games … Louisville has won in 267 straight games.
Louisville: The Cardinals bounced back from a poor effort in a 31-7 loss to Syracuse last week. Cunningham wasn’t perfect, but showed plenty of toughness and leadership in leading the offense to 421 yards. Louisville wants to be a threat in the ACC and now has some momentum going into next week’s home opener against Florida State.
UCF: The Cavaliers need to address their inconsistencies on offense and that starts with Plumlee. The Ole Miss transfer is a threat with his legs, but once Louisville’s defense adjusted and forced him to throw from the pocket he couldn’t deliver. It’s a disappointing result for a team that was hoping to run the table.
Louisville: The Cardinals will host Florida State next Friday.
UCF: The Knights are at Florida Atlantic next Saturday