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Bridgewater, Louisville dominate winless Temple

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- If one sequence can sum up the direction of two teams, it took place late in the first half of No. 7 Louisville's 30-7 victory over Temple.

Trailing 17-0, the Owls drove inside the Cardinals' 5-yard line. Not only did Temple fail to get into the end zone, but it also failed to produce any points. That was because Louisville's Marcus Smith blocked Nick Visco's 23-yard field attempt.

On the ensuing possession, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led the Cardinals on a seven-play, 81-yard drive capped by his 15-yard scoring pass to Eli Rogers with 37 seconds remaining in the half. The junior receiver was wide open in the middle of the end zone and gave the visitors a 24-0 lead.

"I just wanted to make a great play for the team and it meant a lot to us at that point," said Smith, who noted he had never come close to blocking a kick before. "As long as we get to the ball back to Teddy we know he can do great things with it."

Bridgewater did many great things in that opening half by completing 15 of 17 passes for 228 and two touchdowns. He finished the day completing 25 of 35 passes for 348 yards with the two scores.

"We came out and we dominated the first half," said Bridgewater, who had the seventh 300-yard game of his career and 17th with at least two touchdown passes. "We kind of stalled in the second half and played down to our opponents' level. But at the end of the day the only thing that really matters in getting the win."

Temple's lone score came with 38 seconds remaining and followed a blocked punt that gave Temple a short field from the Louisville 26. True freshman P.J. Walker connected with Jalen Fitzpatrick from 9 yards out. That prevented the Cardinals from posting consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1972.

"That kind of bothered us," said defensive end Greg Mauldin, who two sacks and a forced fumble. "But we want to get a shutout every game. That is our goal."

The Cardinals have come pretty close to that goal as they lead the nation in fewest points allowed at 6.8 per game.

Saturday marked a nice way for Louisville to start conference play. The Cardinals have a short week as they host Rutgers on Thursday night.

"I am pleased we got the win, but we could have played much better," said coach Charlie Strong, whose team had to settle for field goals on of their trips inside the Temple 10-yard line. "Sometimes you like a game like this. When you are such a heavy favorite and do not go out and perform to that level and it is a reminder that you have to go out and play your best no matter who you play."

With the help of its tight ends, Louisville (5-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) set the tone early on a steamy afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. On third-and-goal from the 1, Bridgewater rolled to his right and found tight end Gerald Christian wide open for an easy touchdown. The 11-play, 79-yard drive chewed up the game's first 5:37. The play was set up by a 36-yard connection from Bridgewater to tight end Ryan Hubble, who was open deep down the right side and took the ball to the 5.

"Our tight ends are heavily involved not only in the running game, but the passing game," Bridgewater said. "We have three or four guys that can jump right in with the first team offense and it is very pleasing as a quarterback to know I have those guys and I count on them. Our offense is set up so they get their touches."

Dominique Brown's 2-yard touchdown run with 10:36 remaining in the half upped the Cardinals' lead to 17-0. The drive started when Bridgewater threw a screen to Eli Rogers that went for 31 yards to the Temple 30. The untimed down to close the first quarter marked Louisville's fourth play of more than 30 yards in the opening 15 minutes.

Walker took over for Connor Reilly at quarterback on Temple's (0-5, 0-2 AAC) first possession of the second quarter. The true freshman connected with Robby Anderson on a 58-yard completion that brought the ball to the Louisville 12. While it was the Owls' longest play of the year, it led to Smith's blocked field goal.

"I went out there and played how I played in practice all week," Walker said. "Once I was given the opportunity, I went out there and made the best of it."

NOTES: Louisville's leading receiver, DeVante Parker, injured his right shoulder when he was tackled by Temple cornerback Anthony Robey following a 38-yard reception in the opening quarter. He did not return. Parker had a streak of catching at least one touchdown pass in 10 straight games snapped. It was the longest such streak in the nation. ... Dating back to Nov. 3, 2012 against Temple, Bridgewater has thrown 30 TD passes in his last 10 games. ... Bridgewater has thrown at least two touchdown passes of 11 of his last 12 games. ... Since 1974, Temple is 2-85 vs. top 25 teams, including 0-34 vs. top 10 teams. ... Louisville has outscored Temple 92-7 in the last two meetings at Lincoln Financial Field.
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