ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Malik Cunningham used his arm and his legs to get Louisville’s season on track.
The redshirt senior quarterback threw for 195 yards and rushed for 121 more, including a 43-yard scoring run in the third quarter, to lead Louisville to a 20-14 victory over UCF.
The Cardinals (1-1) outscored the Knights 13-0 in the second half. Tiyon Evans rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Hudson had three catches for 67 yards.
UCF (1-1) scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions, but struggled to get much going the rest of the way. The Knights had their best scoring chance with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter but quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was intercepted in the end zone by Jarvis Brownlee.
Plumlee was 16-for-34 passing for 131 yards and rushed for 83 yards, but he was sacked four times. Isaiah Bowser rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
Louisville: The Cardinals recovered from a poor effort in a 31-7 loss to Syracuse last week. Cunningham wasn’t perfect, but showed a lot of toughness and leadership in guiding the offense to 421 yards. Louisville wants to be a threat in the ACC and now has some momentum going into next week’s home opener against Florida State.
UCF: The Knights need to address their inconsistencies on offense and that starts with Plumlee. The Ole Miss transfer is a threat with his legs, but once Louisville’s defense adjusted and forced him to throw from the pocket he could not deliver. It’s a disappointing result for a team that was hoping to run the table.
Louisville: The Cardinals will host Florida State next Friday.
UCF: The Knights are at Florida Atlantic next Saturday