Suddenly, instead of a 24-all tie, Louisville led 31-21 and the Mountaineers never caught up.
"It's a 10-point swing,'' Holgorsen said. "It's not hard to look at the final score and figure out what a 10-point swing means.''
Had that been West Virginia's only issue, though, it could have been overcome. It wasn't.
That was on a Najee Goode interception two plays into the second half. Goode returned the ball to the Louisville 5-yard line, but a penalty on the return pushed it back 35 yards to the 40. When the offense couldn't take advantage, Bitancurt missed his first field goal.
"We had a chance to score on a turnover and we push a guy in the back,'' said defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. "You just can't do those kinds of things in a tight game.''
Louisville also got a 39-yard Chris Philpott field goal to go up 24-21 after WVU tailback Andrew Buie fumbled and Louisville recovered at the Mountaineer 15. The Cards scored despite losing 7 yards on three plays after the turnover.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, who completed 31-of-44 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns, for the second week in a row simply dropped the ball while in the pocket. That was after West Virginia had recovered from the blocked field goal and immediately driven to the Louisville 28.
Still, West Virginia had more than a few opportunities to erase all those mistakes. But after the offense drove 96 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-28 with nine minutes to play, the defense couldn't make a stop. Louisville converted two third downs and a fourth down during a drive that ate up 7:03 and was capped by a 3-yard Dominique Brown touchdown run to make it 38-28 with 1:50 to go.
West Virginia then quickly drove 65 yards to score on a Smith-to-Bailey 1-yard pass with 42 seconds to play, but Louisville recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.