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Louisville clocks Florida International, 72-0

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes and Louisville's defense was stifling as the seventh-ranked Cardinals routed Florida International, 72-0, on Saturday in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

A running clock was used in the second half.

Bridgewater completed 17-of-22 passes for 212 yards, with touchdown passes of three and six yards to wide receiver DeVante Parker, nine yards to tight end Gerald Christian and 34 yards to wide receiver Eli Rogers.

Bridgewater played only three quarters as the Cardinals, who were favored by 42 points, improved to 4-0.

Just as much of a story was the defense, which held Florida International (0-4) to 30 yards total offense and only two first downs, one in each half.

The Panthers had seven possessions in the first half, with six of them going three and out. They punted on fourth and 11 twice, fourth and 14, fourth and 16, fourth and 10, fourth and five and fourth and two.

Punter Chris Ayers was busy, with seven punts in the first half and in 11 all.

It was 38-0 at halftime, and the running clock made the game shorter, but didn't do much to hold the score down.

"We were just a better football team than they were," coach Charlie Strong said. "It just shows how far we've come. They came in here two years ago and beat us. They're not a very good football team right now."

Said Florida International coach Ron Turner, who's in his first year at the school and has only four starters returning from last year: "We had a tough day doing everything -- throwing the ball, running the ball, blocking and catching. It's where we are.

"We just have to keep going, keep working. Recruit and get the right guys on the field and keep battling."

Louisville's Charles Gaines returned the second-half kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, going up the left sideline untouched.

The score was 58-0 after three quarters, and an 11-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman Will Gardner to Michaelee Harris midway through the fourth quarter made it 65-0.

On the Cardinals' final possession, they ran the ball on every play and still moved 45 yards to a touchdown on a nine-yard run by freshman Brandon Radcliff with 2:49 remaining.

"They are a very good team," Turner said. "A very good team. Nothing will surprise me with this team. They're a great football team all the way around.

"There are no weak areas. They are very well coached, they play hard, and they have exceptional athletes. They're a good football team."

The Cardinals rushed for 210 yards and passed for 254. They didn't roll up a huge amount of total yards because many of their drives were short ones as a result of their defense keeping Florida International bottled up, followed by a short punt.

Ayers averaged 32.3 yards on his 11 punts.

In between Bridgewater's touchdown passes, Louisville's three-headed monster at running back each scored a rushing touchdown.

Senorise Perry ran 26 yards, Dominique Brown one yard and Michael Dyer three yards for scores.

Brown's touchdown came one play after he galloped 77 yards down to the one, and he was Louisville's leading rusher with 78 yards on only three carries.

Perry rushed seven times for 51 yards, Radcliff eight times for 47 and Dyer eight times for 33.

Parker, who has caught at least one touchdown pass in 10 consecutive games, had six receptions for 74 yards. His first touchdown catch was a spectacular leaping grab over a defender in the back left corner of the end zone.

At first, it was ruled that he landed out of bounds, but that was reversed on video review. Ten players in all caught passes. Gardner was 5-of-5 passing for 42 yards.

Quarterback E. J. Hilliard of Florida International, who was Bridgewater's backup at Miami Northwestern High School, was 4-of-9 for 27 yards.

Hilliard was sacked four times for minus-33 yards.

"We were getting penetration, and that stopped their running game," Strong said. "And when we got them third and long, with our speed at defensive end, with Lorenzo Mauldin and Marcus Smith, we can put pressure on the quarterback."

Louisville had four sacks, with Smith, a senior, getting two for 25 yards in losses and Mauldin, a junior, one for a three-yard loss. Sophomore Sheldon Rankins had the other sack, for a five-yard loss.

The Cardinals had 12 tackles for a 48 yards in losses in all.

Florida International's leading rusher was freshman Alfonso Randolph, with 13 yards on eight carries. Ya'Keem Griner had one catch for 13 yards.

John Wallace added a 26-yard field goal for the Cardinals.

NOTES: Louisville held a 20-year reunion of its 1993 Liberty Bowl champion team. The Cards were 9-3 that season, including victories over Texas, Pitt, Arizona State and Michigan State, 18-7, in the Liberty Bowl. The Howard Schnellenberger-coached team included longtime NFL players Roman Oden, Sam Madison and Joe Johnson. ... Louisville and Florida International have byes next week, with the Cardinals returning Oct. 5 to play at Temple in their AAC opener, and the Panthers returning Oct. 5 to open C-USA play at Southern Mississippi.
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