Javian Hawkins ran for a season-best 174 yards and a career-high three touchdowns for Louisville, which snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday by beating Florida State 48-16.
The Cardinals (2-4, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) took advantage of a yielding Seminoles defense to amass 410 yards of its 569 total yards in the first half. Five plays went for at least 35 yards in the half, helping the Cardinals take a 31-14 halftime lead.
Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said his team’s attitude hadn’t waned despite the rough start to conference play. He said he’s told the players that hard work in practice doesn’t guarantee them a victory, but it gives them a chance. During the skid, the Cardinals held second-half leads in two of the games.
“Then today, when it all clicks, you get a big win,” he said.
Jordan Travis, who transferred from Louisville two seasons ago, recovered his fumble after a botched handoff and ran it in 15 yards to give the Seminoles (2-4, 1-4) a 7-0 lead just 2:30 into the game. But Louisville responded quickly, needing just 2:01 to tie it on a 9-yard run by Hawkins, one of his 16 carries on the day.
That was the start of 28 straight points for Louisville, which never looked back. After the Cardinals defense forced a three-and-out on Florida State’s ensuing drive, Hawkins gave Louisville the lead for good on a 70-yard scoring run on the Cardinals next play.
Louisville hopes that run can be a metaphor for its season. Initially, it appeared that Hawkins would be stuffed for a loss as he went to the right, but he reversed field and found daylight down the left sideline. A key downfield block from quarterback Malik Cunningham sprung the sophomore, who entered Saturday as the fifth-leading rusher in FBS.
“We just got to keep our foot on the gas,” Hawkins said. “Ain’t no looking back. This is us. We got to be consistent now.”
Cunningham completed 16 of 24 passes for 278 yards and two scores in the victory. Tutu Atwell caught three passes for 129 yards, including a 66-yard scoring strike from Cunningham, and added a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
“That was a talented, explosive offense that we faced today, and we couldn’t slow them down,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “That was not the performance reflected of what I expected, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Despite racking up a season-best 265 yards rushing, the Seminoles offense could not match the Cardinals. Travis finished completing just 14-of-32 passes for 141 yards with a touchdown and an interception before being pulled midway through the fourth quarter.
LOUISVILLE DEFENSE STINGY
Thanks to two second-half stands inside its 10-yard-line, Louisville held a Power 5 foe to less than 20 points for the second consecutive week. The last time that happened was Nov. 18-25, 2017, when the Cardinals held Syracuse and Kentucky to 10 and 17 points, respectively.
ROUGH DEBUT FOR PURDY
Travis wasn’t the only FSU quarterback with a Louisville connection to see action Saturday. Late in the game, he was replaced by freshman Chubba Purdy, who was a verbal commit to the Cardinals before the four-star recruit flipped late in the process to sign with the Seminoles last fall.
The crowd of 11,465 booed the true freshman throughout his time on the field in the final period. In his collegiate debut, Purdy failed to complete a pass in nine tries and ran twice for eight yards.
Florida State: A week after notching a top-10 upset against North Carolina, the Seminoles defensive issues prevented them from building off that momentum. It marks the third time this season, FSU has given up at least 40 points. The offense did the defense no favors as it punted on three-straight possessions in the first quarter, allowing the Cardinals to build an insurmountable lead.
“We made a lot of mistakes today, and we have two weeks to correct them,” Travis said.
Louisville: The last team to notch a victory in ACC play, the Cardinals built off last week’s close loss at Notre Dame and put together their best game of the season Saturday. With a more favorable schedule looming, Louisville could see this win become a turning point in the season. After the Cardinals host Virginia Tech next weekend, their final four opponents have a combined five conference wins heading into this week.
Florida State has a bye next week and will next host Pittsburgh on Nov. 7.
Louisville will host Virginia Tech next Saturday afternoon.
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