Kentucky tops #25 Louisville, keeps Governor’s Cup
Wildcats beat Cardinals 26-13 on Senior Day
LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed 24 times for 120 yards as Kentucky beat No. 25 Louisville 26-13 on Saturday at Kroger Field.
Rodriguez, playing in his final home game, broke the UK record for 100-yard rushing games, eclipsing the mark for the 20th time in his illustrious career. It was the fifth time this season that Rodriguez has rushed for at least 100 yards.
Fellow senior Will Levis was efficient on Saturday, connecting on 11 of 19 through the air for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one to Barion Brown and another to Dane Key.
The UK defense was stout on this day, holding Louisville to just 309 yards of total offense in the game, which is a season low for the Cards.
Kentucky (7-5) got the first possession but the Cats went three-and-out and were forced to punt. Louisville took over at its own 24 yard line. The Cards got one first down on their initial possession before punting the ball back to UK.
The Cats would get on the board on their second possession of the game. The big play was a 70-yard completion from Levis to freshman tight end Josh Kattus, getting the Cats to the Louisville 13 yard line. From there, Rodriguez would gain 11 yards, getting UK to the two. Then, Levis went in for the score, but the play was called back due to an illegal formation on the Cats.
But a couple of plays later, Levis connected with another freshman, wide receiver Dane Key, on an eight-yard touchdown pass. Matt Ruffolo added the point after and the Cats led 7-0 with 7:46 to play in the first period.
The Cards took the next possession deep into UK territory. But on fourth and one from the UK 13, Jacquez Jones stopped Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan short of the first down, giving the ball back to UK.
Kentucky took the ensuing possession and, early in the second quarter, Ruffolo booted a 43-yard field goal, giving the Cats a 10-0 lead with 12:48 left in the half.
The UK defense came up big on the next Louisville drive. JJ Weaver, the Louisville native, sacked U of L quarterback Brock Domann, caused a fumble and was able to secure the loose ball on the Louisville six yard line.
However, the Cats were unable to do much with the possession. UK would settle for a 29-yard field goal from Ruffolo, and the Cats would take a 13-0 lead with 10:28 to play in the half.
Later in the second quarter, the Cards would get on the board. Louisville went 64 yards in 12 plays, capped by a six-yard touchdown run from quarterback Malik Cunningham. James Turner made the extra point and UK’s lead was trimmed to 13-7 with 37 seconds left in the half. That would be the halftime score.
Louisville (7-5) got the first possession of the second half, but the Cards were unable to do much and were forced to punt. Kentucky took the ensuing possession into U of L territory, covering 40 yards in 10 plays and ending with a 35-yard field goal from Ruffolo, giving UK a 16-7 advantage with 8:43 left in the third quarter.
On Louisville’s next drive, quarterback Malik Cunningham was intercepted by UK linebacker Trevin Wallace, who returned the pick to the Louisville 16 yard line with 7:58 to go in the third.
Kentucky would convert on the miscue. On the third play following the turnover, Levis hit Barion Brown on a fade pattern in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Ruffolo added another PAT and the Cats led 23-7 with 6:35 to play in quarter number three. That would be the score at the end of three quarters.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Cats were again in Louisville territory but were stopped. Ruffolo came on again and nailed a 40-yard field goal, marking his career high in field goals in one game, as the Cats took a 26-7 lead with 12:06 left in the game.
On the ensuing drive, Louisville would cut into the UK lead. The Cards marched 75 yards in 10 plays and got a 27-yard touchdown pass from Dohmann to Tyler Hudson. Dohmann then rushed for a two-point conversion but came up short and the UK lead was 26-13 with 7:03 to play.
Kentucky will play in a postseason bowl game that has yet to be determined. Those details should be forthcoming next Sunday, Dec. 4.