LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdown passes as Louisville held off Kentucky in a 24-17 victory on Saturday night that ended a four-game losing skid to its in-state rival.
Bridgewater connected with Josh Bellamy on a 25-yard touchdown to give Louisville (2-1) a 24-10 lead with 11:15 left in the game.
Kentucky (2-1) answered with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Morgan Newton to E.J. Fields with 4:56 left to cut the margin to 24-17.
Louisville went three-and-out on the next drive, but Newton's shot to La'Rod King on fourth-and-6 at the Louisville 18 sailed out of bounds.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong had said earlier in the week that his team lacked the confidence needed to be a good team and that the Cardinals had been overshadowed by Kentucky's accomplishments in the past few years.
His team got its shot of confidence from a true freshman as Bridgewater took over early in the second quarter after Will Stein left the field with a shoulder injury and finished 10-of-18 for 106 yards.
Most of his early plays were handoffs to Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright or as direct snaps to Dominique Brown, but he found his rhythm in the air after competing four passes to four different receivers on the Cardinals' last drive of the first half, the final pass a 25-yard toss to another true freshman, DeVante Parker, to give the Cardinals a 14-3 lead with 1:16 before halftime.
Kentucky had struggled offensively ever since Craig McIntosh kicked a 20-yard field goal on the opening drive, but the Wildcats came to life with their hurry-up offense. Newton capped an 80-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to King with 10 seconds left before halftime to cut Louisville's lead to 14-10.
Newton was 27 for 41 for 255 yards, and King caught seven passes for 84 yards, but Kentucky couldn't match Louisville on the ground. The Cardinals outgained the Wildcats on the ground 181 yards to 35, led by Brown's 91 yards on 14 carries.
Kentucky had the momentum early in the game. The Cardinals followed McIntosh's early field goal by going three and out twice in a row.
Stein managed to inject some energy before leaving the game when he found Andrell Smith at the corner of the end zone on a 38-yard scoring strike to give Louisville a 7-3 lead with 2:53 to go in the first quarter. He left the game on the first play of the Cardinals' next drive.