Saturday, September 17, 2011
Final: Louisville 24, Kentucky 17
By Andrea Adelson
Louisville coach Charlie Strong jumped onto the field from the sideline and could not contain his joy. Oh yes, this win was special.
He just watched his Cardinals -- down-and-out after a humbling loss to FIU last week -- beat Kentucky 24-17 to break a four-game losing streak to their in-state rivals. He watched them do it with a rejuvenated running game, a revelation in Dominique Brown, and some solid play up front.
But perhaps more importantly, he saw his team win behind true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
After starter Will Stein went down with a shoulder injury early in the game, Bridgewater came in and kept the momentum going. He showed poise and determination, throwing two touchdown passes. Incredibly, Bridgewater got into two series before this game, and made relatively few mistakes for a true freshman.
Equally as important was the emergence of No. 3 quarterback Dominique Brown as a runner. Brown led the team with 91 yards on 14 carries, and Kentucky really never found an answer for him. The Cardinals ran for 181 yards in the game, and the offensive line looked much better than at any point this season.
But this game was not over until the very end. After taking a 24-10 lead on Bridgewater's 25-yard touchdown pass to Josh Bellamy, Kentucky responded with a 15-play, 77-yard drive to close the gap to 24-17 on a 2-yard touchdown pass to E.J. Fields. That drive was kept alive when Louisville was called for pass interference in the end zone on fourth-and-goal. Louisville went three-and-out and Kentucky got the ball back with a chance to tie the game.
The Wildcats marched down the field, but Morgan Newton threw incomplete on fourth down at the Louisville 18, and the Cardinals survived to hang onto the upset.
"It's great and it's great for our program," Strong said afterward. "It's so important because they beat us four years in a row, so we needed to go get a win and get our program going in the right direction."