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August 30, 2007

Cards race past overmatched Murray State

New coach. Same old Brian Brohm.

The Louisville quarterback threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns and the 10th-ranked Cardinals sparkled in coach Steve Kragthorpe's debut, drilling overmatched Murray State 73-10 on Thursday night.

Brohm led Louisville (1-0) to touchdowns on each of the Cardinals' first eight drives, guiding an attack that looked awfully similar to the wide-open system that former coach Bobby Petrino used to lead the Cardinals to national prominence.

Louisville rolled up 655 yards of total offense, and worked with a stunning efficiency. The Cardinals averaged a touchdown once every four plays in the first half, and their longest scoring drive with the starters in took all of 2:58.

Brohm, who decided to return for his senior year rather than enter the NFL Draft last spring, completed 16 of 21 passes, most of them to wide-open receivers who met little resistance against a team that features 72 underclassmen.

Harry Douglas caught five passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, the first on Louisville's first play from scrimmage in the first half, the other on Louisville's first play from scrimmage in the second half.

Tight end Gary Barnidge had four receptions for 46 yards and two scores and running back Sergio Spencer rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns as Louisville scored on all but one possession.

By the time Brohm put a towel over his shoulder 20 seconds into the second half, the Cardinals led 56-10. It didn't get much better for the Racers (0-1), a member of the Football Championship Division, formerly Division I-AA.

Though the Racers were able to move the ball early against Louisville's revamped defense - even tying the game at 7 in the first quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Erhardt to Derrick Townsel - competitiveness would be fleeting against a team determined to start the Kragthorpe era with a bang.

Louisville's 73 points were the most since it scored 79 against Ogden in 1926 and extended the Cardinals' home winning streak to 19, the second-longest in the country behind USC.

Still, the Cardinals weren't perfect. The defense allowed the Racers to hold the ball for long stretches and missed several tackles. Kragthorpe wasn't asking for perfection, just a basic grasp of his system and the Cardinals certainly had that.

The early returns were promising. Brohm had little trouble locating his receivers, and he was barely touched by the Racers defense.

Erhardt threw for 88 yards and a touchdown for the Racers, and Paul McKinnis ran for 72 yards for Murray, which received $300,000 to travel 4 hours from its campus in southwestern Kentucky to play fodder for Kragthorpe's debut.

For more coverage of the Louisville Cardinals, check out CardinalSports.com.

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