LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Micale Cunningham passed for a career-best five of six touchdowns accounted for, including a 14-yarder with 1:24 remaining to seal Louisville’s 56-34 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.
Cunningham passed for three TDs and rushed for a 20-yard score in the first half alone on a cold, misty afternoon. The sophomore added a 28-yard scoring pass early in the third, one of several the Cardinals needed during a wild second half in which the schools alternated touchdowns three times.
The sophomore’s final TD pass might have been his most critical for Louisville (7-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) as Syracuse tried to rally. The Orange turned it over twice on downs deep in Louisville territory, with the last ending on three consecutive penalties and a failed a fourth-down pass.
Javian Hawkins’ 47-yard run set up Cunningham’s 14-yard TD pass to Tutu Atwell as the bowl-bound Cardinals capped conference play with another victory in their turnaround season. They also ended the postseason prospects for Syracuse (4-7, 1-6) a season after the Orange won 10 games including a bowl.
Cunningham completed 11 of 20 passes for 238 yards and rushed eight times for 60. Hawkins established a school rushing record for a freshman by totaling 233 yards on 23 carries.
Atwell added 152 yards receiving to break 1,000 as well, highlighted by a 90-yard TD in the second quarter.
Moe Neal rushed for 163 yards and a TD while Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito passed for 153 and two scores before leaving in the fourth.
There was a scary moment early in the third quarter as Syracuse kicker Sterling Hofrichter was injured after being accidentally kicked in the head by a teammate on a punt return. The senior was able to get up and walked off the field to cheers.
Syracuse: A week after a 46-point road rout of Duke, the Orange played catch-up all day to the Cardinals. They made it interesting in the fourth but couldn’t convert fourth-down chances deep in Louisville’s end.
Louisville: The Cardinals outgained Syracuse 608-510 and came up huge on third down, converting 8 of 11 chances. Cunningham’s arm and feet were key, though he had plenty of help from Hawkins and Atwell.
Syracuse hosts Wake Forest on Saturday.
Louisville visits archrival Kentucky on Saturday in a clash for the Governor’s Cup.