Louisville overcomes slow start, pummels Wake Forest

The Cardinals had just 7 yards in the first quarter but finished with 453

Louisville running back Jalen Mitchell runs from Wake Forest defenders during the Cardinals' 45-21 win Saturday at Cardinal Stadium. (Jamie Rhodes / ACC Pool)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Malik Cunningham threw for 195 yards and accounted for three scores for Louisville, which blitzed past Wake Forest 45-21 Saturday.

The Cardinals (4-7, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) overcame a sluggish start to rally for a victory in their regular season finale. After gaining just 7 yards in the first quarter, they finished with 453. Louisville gained 254 of those on the ground.


Cunningham completed 73% (16-for-22) of his passes. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. He went without an interception for the first time in five games.

The Demon Deacons (4-4, 3-4) amassed 351, but they couldn’t stay on the field as they converted just 7 of 18 on third down.

Louisville, meanwhile, converted 7 of 14 third downs and held the ball for 36:56.

Both teams were missing key receivers. Louisville’s Tutu Atwell announced during the week he would miss the contest, while Donavon Greene did not dress for the Demon Deacons. In addition, the Cardinals were without three starting offensive linemen. That led to the Cardinals starting their fourth-string center and three freshmen on the line.

The Demon Deacons played for the first time in nearly a month, and it showed as quarterback Sam Hartman had by far his worst day of the season. The sophomore completed 17 of 41 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. After committing just one turnover previously, Wake Forest committed two on Saturday that led to 10 Louisville points.