By: Brian Hart
Yesterday the Louisville Cardinals (8 – 5) overcame an early 14-point deficit to beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6 – 7) in an ACC vs. SEC battle at the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee.
After losing #6 Garrett Schrader (originally announced as starting QB) to an eye injury that occurred in an altercation with a teammate after a practice drill just days ago, Mississippi State started #7, Tommy Stevens. They took another hit when they lost All-SEC RB #8 Kylin Hill on their first possession of the game. Hill’s first carry resulted in a lower-body injury. He was carted off to the locker room but later returned to the game. Mississippi State thus turned to RBs #33 Lee Witherspoon and #21 Nick Gibson.
The Bulldogs’ first possession ended in a quick three-and-out. Louisville started theirs on the three-yard line and looked unstoppable as they made several consecutive first downs. The drive came to an end when a completion to Louisville WR #7 Dez Fitzpatrick was fumbled and recovered by State’s LB #41 Tim Washington on the one-yard line. Mississippi State took full advantage of the turnover by putting together a 99-yard drive. After rushing 45 yards, Stevens scored the game’s first touchdown on a three-yard run up the middle. At the end of the first quarter, State was up 7 – 0.
On Mississippi State’s first drive of the second quarter, Gibson let everyone know he was back by rushing for 42 total yards and scored the Bulldogs’ second touchdown. (Note: Gibson sat out the first quarter, as he was serving a 1-quarter suspension.) During this scoring drive, Cardinal’s ILB #17 Dorian Etheridge (and top tackler) was ejected from the game for kicking a Mississippi State player who apparently wouldn’t get off of his foot/leg.
Louisville resorted to some trickery to score their first touchdown on a 33-yard pass to TE #83 Marshon Ford thrown by WR #1 Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell. Just before the half, as the clock struck 0:00, Louisville’s kicker #37 Ryan Chalifoux slung one through the uprights to bring the Cardinal’s within four. (14 – 10, Mississippi State)
Louisville never let being behind bother them, and instead, used it to fuel an impressive third quarter. Their defense held Mississippi State to zero yards on their first possession of the second half. Then their offense marched 55 yards down the field to put seven more points on the board with a 24-yard pass from QB #3 Micale Cunningham to WR #2 Devante Peete.
The next drive, at the end of a nine-yard run by Mississippi State’s QB Stevens, Louisville’s FS #30 Khane Pass recovered a fumble and, “Took it to the apartment.” Louisville’s defense entered the game next to last in rushing defense in the ACC and would ultimately hold Mississippi to 12 yards offensively on three drives in the third quarter. Pass’ scoop and score gave the Cardinals a 24 – 14 lead and tons of momentum going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth scoring of touchdowns starting with Louisville’s #3 Cunningham to #83 Ford for Ford’s second touchdown of the game. This eight-yard pass capped off a six-play, 65-yard in 2:30 drive and gave the Cardinals a strong lead of 31 – 14. Mississippi State then drove 75 yards in nine plays and scored on a Stevens to WR #1 Stephen Guidry pass. Cardinal’s RB #10 Javian Hawkins later scored to make the game 38 – 21 in favor of Louisville.
On the last drive of the game, the Bulldogs put together a string of impressive plays covering 86 yards in 1:46. This drive ended in a touchdown pass to Bulldogs’ WR #5 Osirus Mitchell with only 0:27 remaining in the game was too little, too late for Mississippi State.
Cardinal sophomore QB Micale Cunningham was named MVP. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns.
The Louisville Cardinals came out victorious in the 2019 Music City Bowl with a final score of 38 – 28 over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
#MusicCityBowl #HailState #GoCards