Malik Cunningham threw for a touchdown and ran for another to lift host Louisville to a convincing 30-0 victory over Syracuse on Friday in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.
Cunningham completed 19 of 28 passes for 219 yards with a pair of interceptions for the Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC), who controlled the contest despite committing three turnovers in the first half.
Despite its miscues, Louisville finished with a pronounced edge in total yards (413-137), first downs (26-7) and time of possession (41 1/2 of the game’s 60 minutes).
The Cardinals’ Braden Smith recorded team highs in catches (seven) and receiving yards (65) and Tutu Atwell had a touchdown grab to send Syracuse (1-8, 1-7) to its sixth consecutive loss.
Freshman Jalen Mitchell rushed for a touchdown in the first game since fellow Louisville running back Javian Hawkins announced that he was opting out of the remainder of the season in preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft. Hawkins had ranked third in the ACC with 822 yards rushing.
Syracuse freshman JaCobian Morgan completed just 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards with an interception before sustaining an apparent head/neck injury in the third quarter. Morgan was hurt while being sacked by Yasir Abdullah.
James Turner converted field-goal attempts from a career-long 50 and 40 yards out to stake Louisville to an early 6-0 lead.
The Cardinals forced a turnover on the kickoff following the second field goal, with Ean Pfeifer recovering a fumble after Marlon Character stripped the ball from Nykeim Johnson. Mitchell capped a six-play, 31-yard drive by rushing up the middle from 2 yards out for his first career touchdown.
Cunningham scooted into the end zone from 4 yards out on the next possession to push Louisville’s advantage to 20-0 just before halftime. Cunningham’s rushing touchdown was his sixth of the season and the 17th of his career.
Cunningham completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Atwell midway into the third quarter. Atwell’s touchdown reception was the 20th of his career.
Turner added a 33-yard field goal to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.