Malik Williams received Thursday’s opening kickoff for Louisville from TDECU Stadium’s west end zone. He brought it out, looking to make a play. Instead he fumbled the ball, and Dillon Birden jumped on it for Houston. On the next play, Greg Ward Jr. hit Duke Catalon for a 13-yard touchdown, and the rout was on from their in the Cougars’ 36-10 win over Louisville.
Houston scored the game’s first 31 points, leading 10-0 after the first quarter, but they poured it on in the second. Catalon caught a second 13-yard touchdown pass from Ward with 12:18 left in the second quarter, after the ball deflected off Houston tight end Tyler McCloskey, and then he plunged in from two yards out to make it 24-0. After Louisville went three and out on its next drive, Houston capped an impressive first half in the only way it could.
With the ball at midfield, Ward lateralled to Chance Allen who right and tossed the ball up to an open Linell Bonner. He ran it for the touchdown, and the Cougars took a 31-0 lead into the locker room.
Houston out-gained Louisville in the half 242-92 with Ward completing 16-of-27 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Louisville scored on its first possession of the second half and drive deep into Houston territory following a Cougar punt, but Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson lost a fumble, Louisville’s third, and the Cardinals’ hopes of a comeback were dashed.
Jackson completed 20-of-43 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, but along with the fumble, he was sacked 11 times. Steven Taylor was credited with 2.5, while Ed Oliver added a pair to go with two pass break-ups, and another quarterback hit. The 10 points Louisville scored is the fewest since 2011, and it’s the first time all season the Cardinals have failed to gain 400 yards in a game.
Ward, playing his final regular season home game, threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Chance Allen had a 105-yard receiving night. Catalon ran for 41 yards on two carries and caught nine passes for 68 yards
The win is Houston’s second win over a top-5 team this season, and it improves the Cougars to 9-2 on the season. The Cougars will finish the regular season next Saturday at Memphis.