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'D' responds for Cardinals vs. Bearcats

CINCINNATI — Brian Brohm and a maligned defense kept Louisville's season from going down the drain.

Brohm threw three touchdown passes and made a gutsy, game-turning 51-yard completion Saturday night, rallying Louisville to a 28-24 victory over No. 15 Cincinnati that showed the Cardinals aren't done yet.

"It was a great job by our players," coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "People were really down on them. They said some bad things about them."

Brohm changed the conversation with a nearly flawless performance. The senior quarterback with the pro-style touch made the big plays and avoided interceptions against a defense that led the nation in coaxing them.

"He's a Heisman Trophy candidate for a reason," Cincinnati safety Haruki Nakamura said. "He makes big plays in big games. He led his team really well."

Brohm's daring 51-yard completion to Harry Douglas set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, completing a comeback that might have saved Louisville's season.

Louisville (4-3, 1-1 Big East) brought the Keg of Nails, a quirky keepsake that has spent most of the last 10 years in Kentucky. The Cardinals have won the last five games against Cincinnati and nine of the last 10, proof that the rivals are separated by more than just 105 miles of interstate.

The Bearcats' best start since 1954 ended against the one team they still can't beat.

Cincinnati (6-1, 1-1) led the nation in turnover margin, but got the worst of it. The Bearcats fumbled twice inside the Louisville 20-yard line, and one of the nation's most porous defenses held them to a field goal after a first-and-goal from the 2 in the fourth quarter.

"Our defense was tired of the criticism," safety Richard Raglin said. "We had a point to prove. We didn't play a perfect game, but we played well enough to win. We can build on this."