Louisville Beats Kentucky for Third Straight Year
For the second week in a row, a defensive scheme adjustment by Mark Stoops and his defensive staff befuddled the opponents’ offense early.
But unlike UK’s previous opponent, Louisville was able to adjust to the new look presented by the Cats en route to a 27-13 win.
UK played with five defensive linemen for much of the game Saturday, using freshman defensive endJason Hatcher in a hybrid linebacker/end spot alongside junior starting ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. The high-powered Louisville offense managed just three points — on a drive that started deep in UK territory after a fumble — on their first six drives.
“We just wanted to mix things up a little bit, get a little bigger, have some different looks, get Jason on the field,” Stoops said. “It was just a different look, different defense. Gave us a chance. I thought it gave us some stops early.”
Louisville appeared to figure our how to attack the new look late in the second quarter when the Cardinals scored their first touchdown on an 11-play, 52-yard drive with 2:36 remaining in the first half. UK sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith and senior tailback Raymond Sanders then fumbled a handoff that spoiled a scoring chance to end the second quarter.
The Cardinals then opened the second half with a nine-play, 83-yard touchdown drive, and UK never pulled closer than 14 points for the remainder of the game.
“It’s big, but when you look at this game it’s a big game because it’s a rival game and there’s so much put into it,” said UofL head coach Charlie Strong. “That’s what I told our players, all games are big games but this game is a little different and that’s why we had to go out and go prepare the way we did.”
Louisville outgained UK 339 yards to 260 yards in the second half. The Wildcats failed to convert any of their 13 third-down chances in the game.
After throwing for 91 yards in the first half, UofL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished the game with 250 yards and one touchdown on 16-of-28 pass attempts. Cardinals running back Senorise Perry gained 100 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
UK turned the ball over three times in the game, including a fumble at the Louisville 14-yard line and an interception at the Louisville two-yard line.
The interception came from UK backup quarterback Jalen Whitlow two plays after Smith left the game with a injured throwing shoulder.
“We had our opportunities. We needed to score,” Stoops said. “Going into that game, you know you’re going to need to score some points.”
The Cats were unable to take advantage of their strong defensive play early, scoring just one touchdown and two field goals in the game.
Following what many had expected to be an offensive shootout, UK offensive players said after the game they let their defense down.
“Our defense played their tails off,” said UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown. “That quarterback’s as good as anybody in the country. Their receivers are as good as anybody in the country. That offense is very talented and is well-coached, and our defense made a lot of plays.
“Obviously, we didn’t help them out. We couldn’t convert on third down to keep them off the field, and our guys got a little tired, expectedly, in the second half.”
Box Score & More Photos: KY Forward