Coming off of a horrific performance in which they yielded 41 points and 510 yards of offense to the ninth-ranked Florida State Seminoles, the defense of the Louisville Cardinals (3-4, 2-2 ACC) could not have asked for a more favorable opponent then the offense of the Boston College Eagles (3-5, 0-5 ACC) as they looked to rebound.
Louisville suffocated the helpless efforts of the Eagles' porous offensive attack on Saturday afternoon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, limiting Boston College to just 79 yards of total offense and four first downs en route to a 17-14 victory over their Atlantic Coast Conference foes.
Despite turning it over on four separate occasions to the vaunted Eagles defense, Louisville was still able to record 365 yards of offense and 18 first downs while maintaining possession of the ball for 35:57.
The Cardinals went an impressive 6-for-17 on third downs as quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 15 of his 25 pass attempt for 230 yards and two interceptions while rushing for 15 yards and a score as well. Running back Reggie Bonnafon carried the ball 10 times for 56 yards, while wide receivers Jamari Staples and Javonte Bagley accounted for 96 and 69 receiving yards, respectively.
On the other side of the ball, it was simply a sea of miscues for the Boston College offense. Although they only committed a single turnover, the Eagles mustered an astoundingly-poor 14 yards of rushing offense while converting on just one of their 17 third-down attempts.
BC's passing attack was disappointing as well, with starting quarterback Jeff Smith completing five of 11 passes for just 47 yards and also rushing nine times for -33 yards, mounting a Total QBR of 3.0. Backup Troy Flutie struggled as well, completing just four of his 11 attempt for 46 yards while compiling a Total QBR of just 5.4.
The Cardinals jumped out to a commanding lead early on, placing the Eagles in a hole before they could even reach the scoreboard. Following a Boston College three-and-out midway through the first quarter, Louisville began their first scoring drive of the afternoon at the BC 48-yard line.
Bonnafon promptly deposited the Cardinals inside of the red zone with a 29-yard rush on first down, and, following a six-yard gallop by running back L.J. Brown on 3rd-and-1 from the BC 10-yard line, Jackson scampered in from four yards out for a touchdown to provide his team with a 7-0 lead with 2:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Following multiple punts by both sides, Louisville grasped a two-score advantage with 9:51 left in the second quarter. Granted with a 1st-and-10 at the Louisville 41-yard line following a Cardinals three-and-out, Smith dropped back to pass after completing a play-action fake and was instantly ambushed by cornerback Trumaine Washington for a 13-yard strip sack.
Defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins then scooped up the ball and hurdled a potential Boston College tackler en route to a 46-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, giving Louisville a 14-0 lead.
The Eagles finally reached the end zone shortly after, however, it was not a result of offensive improvement. Following a rapid three-and-out on their next possession, Boston College relinquished possession of the football, their defense forcing a 4th-and-25 for the Cardinals after a 17-yard sack by defensive back Gabriel McClary.
The ensuing punt by Louisville punter Joshua Appleby was then blocked by defensive back John Johnson, and Boston College special-teamer Elijah Robinson proceeded to recover the ball at the Louisville 12-yard line and run it in for a touchdown, slicing the deficit in half.
The Cardinals then responded with a crucial five-play, 58-yard drive which concluded in a difference-making 34-yard field goal by kicker John Wallace, sending themselves into the halftime break leading 17-7.
In the third quarter, the Eagles defense finally exemplified it's full potential, forcing two Louisville punts before garnering a fumble recovery at the Cardinals six-yard line after running back Jeremy Smith was stripped by Boston College's Connor Wujciak, the ball recovered by defensive end Harold Landry.
Smith then ran it into the end zone from eight yards out, lessening the gap to 17-14 with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Boston College received a number of opportunities to knot up the score throughout the entirety of the fourth quarter, forcing two punts and intercepting Jackson in the BC end zone after a an impressive march down the field by the Cardinals before forcing a fumble by Louisville running back Brandon Radcliffe at the BC 47-yard line with just 2:18 remaining, recovered by Eagles linebacker Connor Strachan.
After completing a five-yard route to wideout Bobby Swigert on first down to move Boston College into Louisville territory, Flutie allowed the opportunity to slip through his grasp. The Cardinals sacked Flutie for a loss of seven yards on second down, and following a third-down incompletion, Flutie was sacked again, this time by outside linebacker Trevon Young, on 4th-and-12 to conclude the Eagles chances of a comeback.
The Eagles face Virginia Tech next week at home while Louisville visits Wake Forest.