Victor Anderson (AP Photo)
Oct. 29, 2011
Louisville (4-4, 2-1 BIG EAST) got a visit from Anthony Conner, who broke his neck against Rutgers last week, in the locker room before the game and showed a lot of emotion in a big-play first quarter that helped the Cardinals to consecutive BIG EAST Conference wins for the first time since 2006.
Bridgewater's scoring passes of 42 yards to DeVante Parker just 2 minutes into the game and 2 yards to Josh Chichester with 2:36 left in the opening quarter gave Louisville's defense just enough cushion. The Cardinals held the Orange (5-3, 1-2) to a season-low 246 total yards and no real scoring threat a week after Syracuse knocked off then-No. 11 West Virginia 49-23. Anderson then iced it with a 61-yard TD run down the left sideline early in the fourth quarter.
The loss snapped Syracuse's four-game conference road winning streak.
The Orange, who needs just one more win to become bowl eligible, didn't achieve a first down until their third drive and penetrated Louisville's 35 just twice.
Bridgewater, a freshman making his fifth start, found former high school teammate Michaelee Harris on a 44-yard pass on Louisville's second offensive play. Two snaps later he again exposed Syracuse's secondary, finding Parker wide open down the left side to make it 7-0 just 2:05 in.
Bridgewater had a touchdown pass to Harris wiped away for holding on Louisville's second drive. But he connected with Harris for a 21-yard completion on third down and 16 on the Cardinals' third drive that helped set up Bridgewater's second scoring pass, which the 6-foot-8 Chichester hauled in with a defender hanging off of him.
Harris, a redshirt freshman, and Bridgewater, who played together at Miami Northwestern High, connected on four passes for 96 yards, a career-high for Harris.
Meanwhile, Syracuse just never managed to get rolling against one of the nation's top defenses. The Orange had no consistency, and even when the team was able to string together a few positive plays, penalties hurt them. They had eight penalties for 74 yards in the first half alone and finished with 12 for 99.
Ryan Nassib threw for Syracuse's only touchdown with 1:31 left in the game, but even then the Orange needed a roughing the passer penalty to move deep into Louisville territory.
Conner, who was released from the hospital this week after surgery to stabilize his neck, made a surprise visit to the locker room before the game, then received a standing ovation when he made appearance between the first and second quarters. He rode onto the field in a golf cart and briefly stood and waved to the crowd.