LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville players and coaches happily circled the Cardinal logo at midfield following a close victory over Boston College that was simultaneously entertaining and tense.
Not to mention long sought for when it came to Atlantic Coast Conference play.
A conference win was the reward from a 41-39 victory finally settled when BC's fourth-down pass fell incomplete with two seconds remaining. Then came the celebration the Cardinals hadn't felt in 686 days, when they beat Syracuse 56-10 for their last ACC win.
"It was a good experience," Louisville receiver Seth Dawkins said after finishing with eight catches for 170 yards. "A lot of young guys never got to experience that party in the locker room that we just had."
Blanton Creque's 41-yard field goal with 1:02 left edged Louisville past BC to end a nine-game ACC losing streak.
"None of these wins are going to be easy and a lot of them will probably come down to something like this," first-year coach Scott Satterfield said. "You've got to finish games like this, and they were able to do that. All the way to two seconds (left) and we were able to win."
Shortly after Aaron Boumerhi's 45-yard field goal with 3:32 left put the Eagles ahead 39-38, the Cardinals (3-2, 1-1) drove 52 yards in eight plays for Creque's line drive that sailed through the uprights. BC (3-3, 1-2) drove to its 46 before turning the ball over on downs, and Louisville won the shootout for its first conference win since Nov. 18, 2017.
Like the 2017 meeting here that BC won 42-39, yardage and points came in bunches.
The schools combined for 1,227 yards, most of it passing in a contest that matched the ACC's top two rushing attacks. Louisville gained the edge 664-563, helped by those final yards ending with Creque's second field goal.
The teams combined for 16 plays of 20-plus yards, including 10 by Louisville. The Cardinals' last explosive play, Javian Hawkins' 28-yard run to the BC 22, set up Creque's game-winner.
"We needed one stop. One stop," BC coach Steve Addazio said. "We've been a little up and down defensively. We've got to smooth that out."
Louisville used two QBs to get it done. Cardinals freshman Evan Conley completed 10 of 16 passes for 140 yards and a 23-yard TD to Dez Fitzpatrick for 38-29 lead early in the fourth quarter. He alternated at times with Micale Cunningham, who was 13 of 18 passing for 288 yards and 59-yard TD.
Hawkins rushed for a career-high 172 yards and a TD on 25 carries for the Cardinals.
Dennis Grosel passed for three TDs in relief of BC starter Anthony Brown, who left early in the second quarter with a left leg injury. Brown hit 6 of 7 passes for 193 yards with a 72-yard TD to tight end Hunter Long in the first and positioned the Eagles to tie on Grosel's first TD before his injury.
"It hurts, but our mindset was to focus as much as we can" Grosel said. "Defense did what they could, worked their (butts) off."
NAME CHANGE, SORT OF
Before the game a Louisville football spokesman announced Cunningham's preference to called by his given first name, Micale, instead of Malik, his middle name. Frequent mispronunciations of his name by classmates led the sophomore to previously go by Malik because it was easier.
"I just thought about when I talked to a reporter (Friday)," Cunningham said, "and she asked me about it and I was like, you all can pronounce it. I am fine with it. That's my name."
Boston College must move forward without its veteran QB, who watched the rest of the game on crutches. The Eagles appear to be in good hands with Grosel, who hit Korab Idrizi with two TD passes before Travis Levy put them within 38-36 with a 37-yard scoring run. They were still left with their second consecutive ACC loss.
Louisville didn't give Satterfield a signature win by any means. His first ACC win was still notable, and the Cardinals clicked offensively whether Cunningham or Conley were behind center. The defense yielded 259 yards rushing but didn't allow AJ Dillon to gash them like 2017, when he had 272 with four TDs.
Boston College hosts North Carolina on Oct. 19 after a bye.
Louisville visits Wake Forest on Saturday.
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