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Western Kentucky Downed By Louisville In Season Opener, 35-21

Offensive issues caused a misstep for the Tops in their first contest of the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Music City Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a far-from-normal offseason, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Louisville Cardinals began their seasons on Saturday night in front of a distanced and wet crowd at Cardinal Stadium.

Ultimately, both teams made their fair share of mistakes. It was the Cardinals. however, who were able to overcome said mistakes on the way to a 35-21 victory.

The highlight of the night for WKU may have been special teams execution. The Tops made it on the board first after recovering a fumble deep in Louisville territory as the Cardinals were attempting to punt. This set up a one-yard touchdown run by Gaej Walker.

Louisville quickly responded with a short, 94-yard drive that resulted in the first of three Micale Cunningham touchdown passes on the evening. That made it 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Louisville put together three more long scoring drives to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.

To start the second half, WKU blocked a Louisville punt to set up a Malik Staples touchdown run. Any momentum this may have initiated for the Tops was quickly killed, however, when Cunningham completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Dez Fitzpatrick for a touchdown.

Tyrell Pigrome’s first touchdown pass as a Hilltopper came in the fourth quarter to Mitchell Tinsley from 12 yards out, but there was far from enough time left to complete a comeback at that point.

Tyson Helton took notice of his defense’s inability to get off the field on third down. Louisville totaled 22 first downs compared to WKU’s 12.

“We had them backed up. We had them in some third and long scenarios and their players made plays. That’s what good players do. They go out there and make plays,” Helton said. “They were able to make a couple big plays on some third and longs and hit some shots down the field. That was a goal for us to try to not give up those big plays, but they still found them.”

In total, the Cardinal’s racked up 487 total yards compared to WKU’s 248.

WKU will continue their season on September 19 at home against Liberty on ESPNU.