MIAMI -- You've got to give Louisville credit for creating a sense of the dramatic.
Just a week after nearly blowing a 25-point fourth-quarter lead in a three-point win over North Carolina, the 20th-ranked Cardinals had to hang on again for a 28-21 victory over Florida International on Saturday night.
After playing to a 14-14 halftime tie, the Cardinals punched across two touchdowns in the second half to run their record to 4-0.
FIU fell to 1-3.
The Panthers, who had to play the second half with freshman E.J. Hilliard at quarterback after starter Jake Medlock went out with an injury late in the second quarter, closed to a touchdown with 4:53 left when Hilliard hit wide receiver Jacob Younger with a 4-yard touchdown pass.
FIU had a shot a getting another chance when Louisville failed to pick up a first down on the ensuing series, but FIU was called for roughing the punter, extending the Cardinals' possession.
The visitors ran out the clock from there, getting a key third-down run from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater threw for three touchdowns on the damp south Florida night, the last a 1-yarder to John Wallace just six seconds into the fourth quarter.
Running back Jeremy Wright scored Louisville's other touchdown on a 6-yard run on the opening series of the second half.
The two teams went to the locker room tied when Louisville engineered a 12-play, penalty-aided 77-yard drive in the closing minutes of the first half. FIU was flagged for a personal foul on an incompletion early in the possession and for pass interference in the end zone on a third-down play.
It still took the Cardinals three plays to score from 2 yards with Bridgewater completing a 1-yard pass to wide receiver Andrell Smith.
The Cardinals also scored first in the game when Bridgewater capped a 70-yard march with a 4-yard touchdown pass to fullback Nick Heuser on their opening possession.
But the Panthers tied it late in the first quarter when they went 76 yards in 13 plays, with running back Darian Mallary scoring from 3 yards.
FIU then took the lead midway through the second quarter when Medlock capped an 11-play, 82-yard drive with a sneak on second down from 1 yard.
Aside from the four scoring drives, neither team mustered much in the way of yardage.
Take out their touchdown drives and the Cardinals netted only 24 other yards and the Panthers 26.
NOTES: Louisville's fourth-down conversion on its opening drive was the third time the Cardinals have capitalized on such an opportunity in four tries this season. ... FIU senior running back Darian Mallary became the first player in the program's 11 seasons with a touchdown in each of the first four games when he scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter. ... FIU freshman De'Andre Jasper had a 70-yard kickoff return cut in half when the Panther were flagged for not one but two holding penalties. ... Louisville sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's first touchdown pass was the 20th of his career.