LOUISVILLE - The Colonels received a reality check from the coaching staff when they walked into the locker room at halftime on Saturday at Cardinal Stadium.
"We are a play away from this being real," EKU coach Mark Elder said. "That was the message."
At that point, one big play could have made a big difference.
And it did.
Not for the Colonels, though.
Louisville scored just 24 seconds into the second half and quickly turned a competitive match-up into a blowout. Jawon Pass had four touchdown passes as the Cardinals (1-1) pulled away for a 42-0 win over the Colonels (1-1).
Louisville finished with 542 yards of total offense, averaged more than nine yards a snap and collected 23 first downs.
"They wore us down and kicked our tails in the second half," Elder said.
The Colonels trailed just 14-0 at halftime. On the first snap of the third quarter, Louisville’s Javian Hawkins went 66 yards up the left sideline.
One play later, Marshon Ford caught a 5-yard touchdown pass.
"A couple of snaps later, it wasn't (real)," Elder said. "That's how that went."
Almost nothing went well for the Colonels after that.
Dez Fitzpatrick caught a 5-yard touchdown throw from Pass as Louisville pushed out to a 28-0 lead. The Cardinals had almost 200 yards of total offense in just the third quarter.
"It's frustrating, obviously. That's a team that completes in a Power 5 conference. I don't care what their record is. They are a good team. They are as talented as anybody," EKU quarterback Conor Blount said.
Louisville added two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter - Hassan Hill (1 yard) and Malik Cunningham (38 yards).
The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for the Cardinals.
The loss ended EKU's five-game winning streak.
The Colonels came into the in-state match-up confident they could challenge Louisville, despite being a 22-point underdog.
Those hopes suffered an early setback.
After an EKU punt on the opening possession, Louisville scored two plays later. TuTu Atwell caught a 50-yard touchdown just 2:26 into the game.
Ford had a 5-yard TD catch with 2:17 left in the first quarter that gave Louisville a 14-0 lead.
The Cardinals had chances to expanded that advantage.
Louisville missed a field goal and Josh Hayes came up with the only turnover of the game. The junior defensive back stripped the ball away from a Louisville receiver on the EKU 40-yard line.
"It was a low throw. He didn't secure it. I just made a play on the ball," Hayes said.
EKU had only 98 yards of total offense in the first half and were 3-of-12 on third/fourth downs.
Still, the Cardinals only led 14-0 at the half.
"There were some positives and some things to be excited about in the first half, especially defensively," Elder said. "I thought that our defense did a lot of good things."
The Colonels finished the game with only 172 yards of total offense on 59 snaps. EKU quarterbacks were also sacked five times.
"It's just really hard to be successful when you are behind the sticks and they are creating negative yardage plays," Elder said.
Blount completed 6-of-12 passes for 43 yards and Parker McKinney was 3-for-4 for -1 yard.
Daryl McCleskey had a team-best 78 yards on 22 carries. Alonzo Booth had 33 yards rushing on eight carries.
Pass was 12-of-19 for 196 yards, while Hawkins had 123 yards rushing on 11 carries.
EKU is set to return to action Saturday at Indiana State.