LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Despite a game-ending injury to sophomore starting quarterback T.J. Pryor in the third quarter, Eastern Kentucky still came up with 13 second half points, but fell short against the University of Louisville Cardinals, 23-13, at UofL’s Papa John’s Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Louisville broke open a scoreless game on the second play of the second quarter when senior tailback Bilal Powell took it into the end zone on a two-yard run which culminated a nine-play, 75-yard drive, making it 7-0 Cardinals at the 14:40 mark of the second period. Six minutes later the Cardinal defense added a safety when the Colonels were called for offensive holding in the end zone to up the tally to 9-0 Cards.
The Cardinals, who scored all 23 of their points in the second stanza, added to its lead when senior quarterback Adam Froman found senior flanker Doug Beaumont open on a deep post pattern for a 42-yard TD pass, and with 3:12 left until the half, the lead widened to a 16-0 Cardinal advantage.
Following a short punt, Louisville took over at midfield and used six plays for its third TD of the second quarter when Powell scored his second touchdown of the game on a three-yard run with just 38 seconds left before the break.
That was it for Louisville putting points on the scoreboard for the game.
EKU junior cornerback Jeremy “Ta’Ta'” Caldwell got the Colonels on the scoreboard when he jumped an out-route by UofL wideout Andrell Smith and scampered 80 yards to paydirt. A Logan O’Connor extra point closed the deficit to 23-7 with 5:00 left in the third quarter. Also, in this stanza, head coach Dean Hood made the decision to put an injured Pryor (groin) on the bench, thus putting redshirt freshman Brendan Gregory into his first collegiate game. The youngster from Erlanger Lloyd High School in northern Kentucky stepped up and played very well for his first collegiate action.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a young man,” said Hood of Gregory. “To be put in that situation in front of 50,000 fans, he played super. He gave us quality reps while he was in there. You couldn’t ask any more of a guy for his first game in college.”
EKU closed the margin late in the game when Eastern’s drive was kept alive for a roughing the kicker penalty giving Eastern a first down at midfield. Sophomore runningback transfer Matt Denham put Eastern in business when he went off left tackle and jetted 41 yards to the UofL eight-yard line. Eastern moved to the one-yard line where Gregory rolled out to the right and found Air Force transfer Kyle Lumpkin in the end zone for a TD toss, closing the gap to 23-13.
Things really got interesting when Gregory hit sophomore Tyrone Goard for a two-point conversion. However, EKU was whistled for offensive interference, negating the two points and moving the ball out to the 18-yard line where a second two-point try was unsuccessful.
Eastern still wasn’t finished, however. An onside kick by O’Connor hit a UofL player and he fell on the ball at the EKU 39-yard line. Gregory’s pass on third down was intercepted and that was the ball game. Louisville had secured head coach Charlie Strong’s first victory at Louisville, 23-13, over Eastern Kentucky.
Pryor was 7-14 through the air for the Colonels for 91 yards, while Gregory was 4-9 for 47 yards. Sophomore wideout Orlandus Harris led EKU with five catches for 70 yards. Denham led Eastern with 48 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Eastern, who held Louisville to 98 second half yards, was paced by sophomore safety Brooklyn Fox with six tackles.
Froman was 15-23 for 219 yards for Louisville, while Powell totaled 95 yards on the ground.
EKU, 0-2 on the year, will travel to Chattanooga next Saturday for a 6:00 p.m. game. Louisville, 1-1, plays at Oregon State next Saturday.