Rutgers dispatches Louisville 34-14
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Mohamed Sanu ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns to lead Rutgers past Louisville 34-14 on Friday.
Joe Martinek added 90 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Tom Savage threw for a score and ran for another as the Scarlet Knights (8-3, 3-3 Big East) bounced back from an ugly loss to Syracuse last week.
Adam Froman passed for 254 yards and a touchdown for Louisville (4-8, 1-6), which has posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1996-97.
The Scarlet Knights were held to 130 yards during the loss to the Orange, but bettered that total by the end of the first quarter against injury-depleted Louisville.
Rutgers scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and the Cardinals would get no closer than 14 the rest of the way to end another disappointing season under coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Sanu did a little bit of everything. Working out of Rutgers’ wildcat formation, he found plenty of holes in the Louisville defense, particularly after the Cardinals lost starting middle linebacker Jon Dempsey to a knee injury in the first half.
Rutgers’ early dominance quickly quieted a chilly crowd of 23,422, the second smallest in the history of Cardinals Stadium.
While the attendance can be partly attributed to the early 11 a.m. kickoff the day after Thanksgiving, it doesn’t exactly bode well for Kragthorpe, who has struggled to win over fans spoiled by the success the program enjoyed under predecessor Bobby Petrino.
The loss dropped Louisville to 15-21 in three years under Kragthorpe, who has been unable to stop the program’s steady slide since 2006 when the Cardinals won the Big East and the Orange Bowl with Petrino.
One fan held a sign that said “Coach K’s Going Away Party,” and the team was met with intermittent boos on senior day after the Scarlet Knights spent the first half moving up and down the field with ease.
Rutgers scored a touchdown on each of its first four possessions, taking turns alternately grinding things on the ground with Martinek and Sanu and hitting for big plays through the air with Savage and Tim Brown.
Martinek got things going with a 2-yard touchdown run and Savage followed it up with a 3-yard scoring run the next time the Scarlet Knights had the ball. His run showcased the biggest difference between the two programs: size and strength.
Savage was actually hit at the Louisville 3 but kept pushing his legs while a pair of offensive linemen drove several Louisville defenders into the end zone, giving Savage just enough room to cross the goal line.
Louisville was able to get back in it momentarily on a touchdown pass from Froman to Trent Guy—one of the few holdovers from the Petrino era—but the Scarlet Knights needed just six plays to jump back in front 21-7 on a 4-yard run by Sanu.
Savage added a 32-yard touchdown pass to Brown to put the Scarlet Knights up 28-7 at the half.
Kragthorpe walked off the field to a shower of boos after exchanging handshakes with Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and a handful of Scarlet Knights.
Kragthorpe is in the third year of five-year contract that averages about $1.1 million annually. He said earlier in the week he believed the Cardinals had shown enough progress over the season to warrant his return but conceded the decision was out of his hands.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said he would meet with Kragthorpe at the end of the year to discuss the future. Jurich watched the game from his box but did not take questions from reporters.
The Scarlet Knights have no such problems. A win over West Virginia next week could significantly boost their bowl hopes, and with so many freshmen making big plays the future appears to be bright.