Louisville thorougly outplayed North Carolina in the first half Saturday.
North Carolina thoroughly outplayed Louisville in the second half, and turned a snoozer of a game into hold-your-breath, down-to-the-wire excitement.
The Tar Heels clawed their way back from a 36-7 halftime deficit and nearly stole the game. But Louisville cornerback Andrew Johnson had a terrific pass breakup in the end zone, on a fourth-down pass from Bryn Renner to Erik Highsmith, to help No. 19 Louisville hang on for a 39-34 victory.
Renner had an amazing second half, throwing four of his five touchdown passes after the break, as the Tar Heels essentially dominated Louisville both on the offensive and defensive lines to help this team get back into the game.
Romar Morris had a huge role, too, with 149 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Several Louisville miscues helped North Carolina stay in the game.
The Tar Heels scored one of their touchdowns following a blocked punt.
Then they got into position for the game-winning score after Adrian Bushell fumbled a kickoff with 4:23 remaining.
Though North Carolina outscored Louisville 27-3 in the second half, it dug itself too deep a hole because of its play early in the game. Louisville scored on its first six possessions, and Teddy Bridgewater looked like a Heisman contender.
Bridgewater got no pressure at all, and expertly carved up the North Carolina defense, throwing three touchdown passes with only a handful of incompletions. In essence, the Carolina defense was nonexistent, as Louisville racked up 360 total yards of offense. Here is the key disparity: The Cardinals ended the game with 462 total yards.
In all, Bridgewater went 23-of-28 for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Jeremy Wright ended with 114 yards and a touchdown as well.
Give credit to North Carolina for not giving up. It had the ball for the bulk of the fourth quarter -- Louisville had 12 total offensive plays, including the final three after the game was decided. Renner ended up throwing for 363 yards, going 26-of-41. But it just was not enough to complete the comeback.