LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With Louisville's high-flying offense basically grounded, especially in the second half, the defense came through with eight sacks and four interceptions as the eighth-ranked Cardinals beat Rutgers 24-10 on Thursday night before 55,168 in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. After taking a 17-7 lead at halftime, Louisville (6-0, 2-0 ACC) was unable to score in the second half except for a late touchdown set up by the Cardinals' fourth interception. In the meantime, Rutgers (4-2, 1-1) got a field goal early in the fourth quarter and had two subsequent possessions with a chance to tie, but both resulted in interceptions of Gary Nova passes. After the second one, the Cardinals drove 60 yards to the clinching touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater to high school teammate Michaelee Harris with 3:02 left. Bridgewater was 21 of 31 for 310 yards and two touchdowns but also threw an interception in the end zone and had a fumble that thwarted a long drive. Louisville had driven from its 31 to a second-and-2 at the Rutgers 5 when Bridgewater fumbled on a blitz by cornerback Anthony Cioffi. Nova was 19 of 34 for 202 yards and a TD but was under constant pressure. Three of Louisville's eight sacks were by senior defensive end Marcus Smith. Bridgewater threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kai De La Cruz early in the second quarter to give Louisville a 10-0 lead. It marked the 18th straight game in which he has thrown at least one scoring pass. After Rutgers went three-and-out, Louisville moved ahead 17-0 after a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by Senorise Perry's 1-yard run. That came one play after his 23-yard run. The final 47 yards of the march came on the ground. After Perry's touchdown, Rutgers went 70 yards in 11 plays for a 1-yard touchdown pass from Nova to tight end Tyler Kroft in the back of the end zone. A 26-yard pass from J.T. Tartacoff to Kroft on a fourth-and-3 play kept the drive alive. Tartacoff lined up as the holder on a field-goal attempt, then stood up and hit a wide-open Kroft over the middle. Louisville took the subsequent kickoff and drove to the Rutgers 31 before Bridgewater was intercepted by Rutgers safety Jeremy Deering in the end zone. Louisville's first score came on a 24-yard field goal by John Wallace with 5:47 left in the first quarter. Bridgewater was 10 of 14 for 154 yards and one touchdown with one interception in the first half. He also ran three times for 19 yards as the Cardinals rushed for 84 yards, with Perry getting 51 of those on seven carries. Nova was 12 of 17 for 106 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. He was sacked three times, two by DE Marcus Smith. Rutgers ran for just 1 yard on 13 carries in the first half and had seven first downs to 17 for Louisville, which had a 238-133 edge in total offense. NOTES: Louisville will play host to Central Florida (4-1, 1-0) next Friday night. UCF has a bye this week. Rutgers has a bye next week and will next play host to Houston on Oct. 26. Houston (4-0, 1-0) plays host to Memphis (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday. ... Rutgers junior running back Paul James missed his second straight game with a "lower leg injury." James, who was injured in the third quarter of Rutgers' fourth game, had 573 yards rushing (7.2 per carry). He led the country in rushing after three games with 493 yards. He also has scored six touchdowns. ... Louisville junior wide receiver DeVante Parker did not play because of a shoulder injury suffered last Saturday in the second quarter against Temple. That game snapped a string of 10 straight games with at least one TD catch for Parker. He has caught 21 passes for 375 yards and six touchdowns this season.
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