LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Chad Christen’s 30-yard field goal in the third overtime gave Connecticut a 23-20 upset of No. 19 Louisville on Saturday.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson set up the Huskies’ winning score by intercepting Teddy Bridgewater’s pass intended for DeVante Parker in the end zone. The Huskies ran three plays for 12 yards before Christen’s second OT kick gave Connecticut (5-6, 2-4 Big East Conference) its second straight win.
Louisville (9-2, 4-2) dropped its second straight but still has a chance for a BCS bowl bid by beating first-place Rutgers (9-2, 5-1) on Thursday.
The Cardinals trailed 10-0 after three quarters and briefly lost Bridgewater with a left wrist injury before the sophomore returned to lead Louisville’s fourth-quarter rally capped by his 6-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.
After trading field goals in the first overtime, Johnny McEntee put Connecticut ahead with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Shakim Phillips before Bridgewater’s 25-yard TD pass to Parker.
McEntee, who relieved an injured Chandler Whitmer in the fourth quarter, was 2 of 7 passing for 20 yards. Lyle McCombs rushed for 133 yards on 29 carries and Nick Williams scored on a 3-yard run for the Huskies.
Bridgewater completed 30 of 53 passes for 331 and two touchdowns but was sacked four times. Damian Copeland caught five passes for 95 yards while Parker added 91 on eight receptions.
Both teams were coming off byes, but the Cardinals looked like the ones still on a break.
Louisville was outgained 160-88 in the first half while being shut out for the first time since Pittsburgh did it here a year
ago. Bridgewater’s timing and mechanics looked particularly off with passes either underthrown or overthrown.
His receivers didn’t help him by dropping passes, either. One flub by a wide-open DeVante Parker on the second drive brought an angry coach Charlie Strong on the field to yell at his players.
That still couldn’t snap Louisville out of its initial funk against Connecticut’s ninth-ranked defense, which was going to give up many yards to begin with.
The Huskies certainly didn’t in the first quarter, forcing the Cardinals to punt four times. Connecticut cornerback Dwayne Gratz served notice how hard it would be for Louisville receivers by breaking up Bridgewater’s first two passes and laying out tight end Scott Radcliff with a punishing hit that left him on the ground for several moments. He did not return.
Connecticut’s 11th-ranked run defense lived up to billing by hemming in Wright, getting the bulk of Louisville’s carries
following Senorise Perry’s season-ending ACL tear two weeks ago at Syracuse. He gained just 25 yards on six carries while freshman Corvin Lamb got nine on three attempts.
And while Connecticut’s offense wasn’t great, the Huskies took advantage of their few opportunities.
After two three-and-out drives Connecticut moved 51 yards in eight plays to set up Christen’s 39-yard field goal. Two drives later it was 10-0 as the Huskies drove 66 yards in 10 plays ending in Williams’ 3-yard touchdown run.
Things got worse for Louisville just before the half when Bridgewater was sacked by Sio Moore and came up shaking his left wrist. He returned to the sideline midway through the third quarter and re-entered the game with 4:55 remaining.
Louisville finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth behind Bridgewater, who connected with Damian Copeland for completions of 59 and 13 yards to reach Connecticut’s 24. The drive stalled at the 2 but Wallace hit a 19-yard field goal to bring the Cardinals within 10-3.
A fake punt on Louisville’s next drive gained just five yards and gave Connecticut the ball at midfield, but the Huskies soon punted to set the stage for Bridgewater’s heroics in the final three minutes.
He directed a 92-yard, 13-play drive kept alive by a 28-yard pass to Eli Rogers and a 9-yarder to Wright for first down at the Huskies’ 26. A 14-yard pass to Wright and a face mask foul penalty on Connecticut set up first and goal at the 6, and Bridgewater found a wide-open Parker in the end zone.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)