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College football: Late pick-six lifts Louisville over UCF; Maryland goes to 3-0

Louisville running back Trevion Cooley, middle, celebrates his 45-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown catch Sept. 17, 2021.
Louisville running back Trevion Cooley, middle, celebrates his 45-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown catch with teammates Justin Marshall, left, and Dez Melton. The Cardinals won 42-35.
(Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press)

Jaylin Alderman returned an interception off a tipped pass for a 66-yard touchdown with 13 seconds remaining, giving Louisville a thrilling 42-35 victory over Central Florida on Friday night in Louisville, Ky.

The Knights appeared primed to win the back-and-forth game after intercepting Louisville’s Malik Cunningham off a deflection on the previous play for possession at the Cardinals’ 41-yard line with less than a minute to play. But Alderman was there to snatch a tip of Dillon Gabriel’s pass on the next snap, then found room down the right sideline for the touchdown to spark a delirious celebration for Louisville.

“He’s just an instinctive player,” Cardinals linebacker C.J. Avery said of Alderman, who was not available for postgame interviews. “Right before that play, I knew he was going into the game and I just told him, ‘Just do your job, and you’ll make a play.’ And he did.”

UCF (2-1) attempted several laterals on the game’s final play before being penalized for an illegal forward pass that closed the victory for Louisville (2-1).

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Donte Williams will lead the Trojans into hostile territory against Washington State on Saturday with no head coaching experience at any level.

Cunningham ran for two touchdowns and threw for another touchdown in helping Louisville. He was 23-for-38 passing for 265 yards and rushed 13 times for 99 yards.

UCF drove 87 yards in eight plays to tie the score at 35 as Gabriel scored on a six-yard touchdown run with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter. Gabriel passed for three touchdowns and ran for another, completing 21 of 28 passes for 188 yards.

Louisville used trickery to lead 35-28 when wide receiver Braden Smith completed a 45-yard pass to a wide-open Trevion Cooley for a touchdown. That came after UCF tied the score at 28 early in the fourth quarter on Gabriel’s six-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Johnson.

“We got the big turnover down there and got a shot downfield,” Knights coach Gus Malzahn said. “We felt like we were close to winning. There were a lot of ups and downs tonight. The crowd really got into it, and they had the momentum. It was a tough one.”

Maryland 20, at Illinois 17

Maryland's Joseph Petrino (27) celebrates his game-winning field goal with holder Colton Spangler on Sept. 17, 2021.
Maryland’s Joseph Petrino (27) celebrates his game-winning field goal with holder Colton Spangler on Friday night.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Joseph Petrino kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift Maryland over Illinois in Champaign, Ill.

But the win didn’t come easily for the Terrapins (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) in their conference opener.

In a game best described as weird from beginning to end, the normally explosive Terrapins consistently had trouble against a tough Illini defense. Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 350 yards (32 for 43) but was held to one passing touchdown.

Tayon Fleet-Davis carried the ball 11 times for 62 yards for Maryland. He also caught the lone touchdown pass from Tagovailoa.

Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters, in his first start since being injured early in the first game of the season against Nebraska, was effective but clearly rusty for Illinois (1-3, 1-1). He was 10-for-26 passing for 185 yards with one interception.

Kazmeir Allen’s star faded after a sensational debut as a UCLA running back three years ago. A switch to receiver helped unleash his world-class speed.

Josh McCray carried the ball eight times for 60 yards and had a 38-yard touchdown run for the Illini. Chase Brown carried 14 times for 57 yards. Receiver Casey Washington had a 30-yard touchdown run.

The Illini took the lead in the fourth quarter, after a series of fumbles and turnovers by both teams, when Washington recovered a fumble by teammate Reggie Love III and scampered into the end zone.

Maryland answered with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Fleet-Davis to tie the score at 17 with 2:13 left.

Illinois couldn’t put together an offensive drive late in the game, and Maryland took advantage of a short field following an Illinois punt from its own end zone that helped set up Petrino’s game-winning kick.


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