In sports, just as in life it’s all about the moments, and it’s up to the members of the team and their fans to seize those moments. Then there are just a few times in a lifetime that there is that one really special moment. There is that moment for the team that makes all of the practice time worth it, all of the sacrifice worth it. That moment for the fans that made all of the dedication worth it, all the traveling worth it, all of the ups and downs worth it. Yesterday was one of those moments for the Louisville Cardinal Football team and the Cardinal Nation. The Cardinals and their fans made their very first trip to the beautiful, historical and legendary Notre Dame Campus yesterday and left last night celebrating their first victory over a legendary team. The Cardinals beat the Irish 31-28 in a game that will never be forgotten.
Demolition of old Cardinal Stadium began last week and I can only imagine the looks you would have gotten if you had looked over at someone on one of those cold Saturdays in the ’80s and told them that someday a ranked Louisville Football team would go into Notre Dame Stadium on senior day and beat the Irish. I hope that some of those players and fans from back during some of those darker years of the program got to be at Notre Dame last night. Those players and fans deserve moments like this more than anyone.
When I arrived on the campus of Notre Dame yesterday I took in all of the great sights and sounds. It was The Golden Dome, the Grotto, and Touchdown Jesus. The whole day leading up to the game was incredible and that whole place just oozes history… Then was the pre-game pageantry in Notre Dame Stadium. From the band taking the field to the raising of the American flag it was all pretty great. And seeing my Cardinals come out of that legendary tunnel and take that field sent cold chills down my spine. I was just so happy to be in that moment and to have had the experience up to that point and we hadn’t even played the game yet.
From Kick-off to the final horn this was a great football game. It went back and forth and both teams really gave their best efforts. On the offensive side of the ball it was a Red Shirt Sophomore and a true freshman that lead the way for the Cardinals. Talk about seizing their moment Brandon Radcliff and Reggie Bonnafon did just that.
Reggie accounted for 247 total yards of offense with three of Louisville’s touchdowns two rushing and one passing. He really showed a lot of poise under some very bright lights. He had some extra motivation from up above as he was playing to honor his late father. One of his father’s last messages to him came in the form of a wrist band that said to “Own Your Destiny”. I think Reggie did just that last night.
Brandon Radcliff has ran hard all season long coming up big in clutch situations but perhaps had his biggest moment last night grinding out some tough yardage when the Cards needed them the most. He had 136 yards and a touchdown. Time of possession was important in that game last night and Radcliff was called on many times to keep the ball in the hands of the Cardinals.
The offensive line did a really good job last night and I think they held their own in the trenches especially went it counted the most. They did a really good job run blocking and pass blocking which led to both Brandon and Reggie’s success last night.
Our defense has also held up in clutch situations all season long. And that unit also had their biggest moment of the season when the Irish had 1st and goal with 1:42 left in the game. The Cardinals stood strong holding them out of the end-zone especially when Brown sacked Golson for a 6 yard loss that eventually led to an incomplete pass and the missed field goal that sealed the game. The Defense was led by Terrell Floyed who had 8 tackles and Keith Kelsey who had 6 tackles on the night.
It really is funny how sometimes things tend to come full circle. Tom King was the first coach to attempt to build a football program at Louisville. King played at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne. Louisville football would see their first sign of success under the guidance of King. And last night the Louisville football program had one of their biggest successes in Notre Dame Stadium. It was a great moment and one that I hope every Cardinal Fan young and old got to enjoy and will never forget. Go Cards!