Perry, Bridgewater keep Louisville undefeated
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Senorise Perry ran for four touchdowns, Teddy Bridgewater threw for 304 yards with one score and the 18th-ranked Louisville Cardinals snapped a four-game skid against the Pittsburgh Panthers with a 45-35 victory on Saturday.
DeVante Parker led all receivers with 153 yards and a touchdown on four grabs for Louisville (6-0, 1-0 Big East), which is off to its best start since winning its first eight games in 2006.
"It's the first conference game of six," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "You have to win to stay in the race. We've played away from home for a month. We get to go home and play four of our next six games in front of our home crowd."
The Cardinals scored 24 straight points after Pittsburgh (2-4, 0-3) had taken a 21-14 lead.
Tino Sunseri connected on 28-of-37 throws for 287 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers QB added a score on a goal-line plunge with 12:41 remaining in the fourth quarter, but his fourth-down pass on Pitt's next drive fell incomplete.
Perry then sealed the win by sprinting 59 yards to the end zone on third down.
Devin Street caught a game-high 11 passes for 111 yards in defeat. His final reception resulted in a 2-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left.
"I give Louisville a lot of credit," Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst said. "The way they came out in the second half, we weren't able to answer their scores. I'm proud of the way our players prepared. I thought our guys put it out there. That's all you can ask for. The bottom line is they made more plays. We had a couple of opportunities, but they were better than us today."
Sunseri completed all six of his passes on the game's opening drive, the last of which was caught by a leaping Cameron Saddler in the back right corner of the end zone.
The Cardinals countered with a 12-play march that ended with Perry scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run. It marked the fifth time this season Louisville reached the end zone on its opening possession.
Kevin Harper missed a 50-yard field goal on Pitt's next series, but the Panthers regained the lead with the help of their special teams unit.
After the defense forced Louisville to go three-and-out, Todd Thomas was unimpeded as he darted up the middle and blocked Ryan Johnson's punt. The ball bounded into the end zone, where the Pitt linebacker fell on it.
Once again, the Cardinals answered a Panthers touchdown with a lengthy scoring drive. Bridgewater moved the chains on 3rd-and-12 from the Pitt 35- yard line with a 31-yard pass to Andrell Smith. Jeremy Wright ran for a touchdown on the next play to even things up at 14.
Rushel Shell, however, scored on a 2-yard TD run on the subsequent drive to restore the lead for Pitt, which turned the ball over on downs at the Louisville 43 on its next possession.
The Panthers chose to go for it on fourth down, rather than punt the ball and try to pin the Cardinals deep in the waning moments of the first half.
The decision proved costly when Bridgewater managed to convert a 4th-and-8 with a downfield strike to Parker. The 27-yard completion brought out John Wallace and he kicked a 45-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.
Louisville fed off the momentum of the late field goal and moved in front as Bridgewater and Parker hooked up for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half.
Bridgewater then set up Perry's second TD run with completions of 29 and 35 yards to Eli Rogers and Parker, respectively.
The Panthers' special teams unit then contributed to Louisville padding its advantage. A poor snap to the punter resulted in the Cardinals taking over at the Pitt 16. Louisville went up 38-21 when Perry scored on another short run after the Panthers were flagged for consecutive penalties, including pass interference.
Louisville beat Pittsburgh for the first time since Oct. 27, 2007 ...The Cardinals improved to 2-6 in Big East openers ... The Panthers' last 0-3 start in Big East play came in 2001 ... Bridgewater completed 17-of-26 passes ... Perry finished with 101 yards on 12 carries ...Shell carried the ball 18 times for 96 yards.
10/13 17:01:40 ET