LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - When Derrick Locke returned a first
quarter kickoff unscathed for a 100-yard score, it almost seemed
Kentucky's retention of the Governor's Cup would go as easily as
But as Louisville and Kentucky have proven time and again, all
bets are off when Bluegrass bragging rights are on the line.
The Wildcats needed some late heroics by Mike Hartline and
Randall Cobb to overcome three third quarter turnovers and pull out
a 31-27 victory, their third straight in the series.
"These fourth quarter comebacks are killing me," said Rich
Brooks, now in his seventh year as Wildcats coach.
With less than five minutes left and down 27-24, Kentucky got
the ball back courtesy of a fumbled kickoff return. Two plays
later, Hartline found Cobb - his one-time rival for the starting
quarterback job - in the corner of the end zone, closely guarded.
The pass was high, but Cobb leaped, giving the Wildcats their final
"I knew when it was in the air I had to make a play," Cobb
This back-and-forth battle for the Governor's Cup wasn't won
until the final 2 minutes when Louisville quarterback Justin Burke
was driving for a potential game-winning score, only to have a pass
tipped by Corey Peters and picked off by Sam Maxwell.
Kentucky (2-0) had to punt the ball back to Louisville, but
Burke's last-second Hail Mary was incomplete. Burke completed 15 of
28 passes for 245 yards and two TDs.
"We continued to attack," said Burke, who attended high school
at Lexington Catholic, just a few miles from Commonwealth Stadium
where Saturday's game was played. "It shows it's a game of
resolve. We just kept coming back. We just killed ourselves, but we
kept coming back."
Just not quite enough. Until the end, it was Kentucky (2-0) that
seemed more determined to give the game away, turning the ball over
to Louisville (1-1) on three straight third quarter possessions.
Hartline committed two of those miscues on a fumbled snap and a
pass that was intercepted by a diving Johnny Patrick. He completed
20 of 27 passes for 178 yards.
"When times were looking bleak today, I felt like we ended up
responding well," Hartline said. "We were resilient. We knew
there was hope."
After Louisville was penalized five yards for offsides, Locke
took a first quarter kickoff from his own end zone, got one block
downfield and sprinted untouched to the end zone. Locke was the
first Wildcats player in history to return two 100-yard kickoffs
for TDs, having also done it last year against Western Kentucky.
He also had a 2-yard TD run and racked up 191 return yards, 72
rushing yards and 47 receiving yards. However, Locke also had a
critical fumble of a kickoff in the second half, the first of the
three consecutive Kentucky drives that ended with turnovers.
"We are going to have bad plays, but my team bailed me out,"
Louisville drove deep into Kentucky territory all three times
and also on the opening drive of the second half, after Trent Guy
returned the kickoff 65 yards. Still, the Cardinals managed just
one touchdown on any of those chances - a 5-yard pass from Burke to
Guy caught just one pass, but it was by far the longest in
Burke's short two-game career as the starter. The quarterback hit
him in stride as he sprinted down the sideline for a 66-yard score
that gave Louisville its final lead at 27-24.
However, it was Guy's fumbled kickoff that set up Kentucky's
"I told him not to feel bad," Louisville coach Steve
Kragthorpe said of Guy. "That play did not lose the game."
Burke, completed 15 of 28 passes for 245 yards and two TDs.
Both teams sustained long scoring drives in the first quarter,
but while Kentucky had to settle for a field goal, Louisville took
an early 7-3 lead behind some dynamic running by Victor Anderson,
who had 19 carries for 110 yards.
Anderson changed direction and scampered 35 yards on
Louisville's first play from scrimmage, then he ended a nine-play
drive by running up the middle for a 3-yard score - the Cardinals
lone rushing TD of the day.
Kentucky led 17-7 at halftime. It might have been more if not
for a malfunctioning scoreboard clock. Officials ran off 15 seconds
after the restart, and the Wildcats didn't have time to spike the
ball for a field goal.
Despite the victory, Kentucky's performance wasn't nearly as
dominant as its 42-0 victory over Miami of Ohio two weeks earlier.
Linebacker Micah Johnson, who made some key plays on defense, said
the expectations going in were probably a little high for a series
that always seems to be won at the end.
"A lot of people were expecting us to blow them out, but
they're a good team," Johnson said.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Louisville 7 0 6 14-27
Kentucky 10 7 0 14-31
Ky-FG Seiber 26, 9:34.
Lou-Anderson 6 run (R.Payne kick), 5:37.
Ky-Locke 100 kickoff return (Seiber kick), 5:23.
Ky-Conner 2 run (Seiber kick), 2:47.
Lou-FG R.Payne 23, 11:29.
Lou-FG R.Payne 42, 4:58.
Lou-Graham 5 pass from Burke (R.Payne kick), 14:16.
Ky-Locke 2 run (Seiber kick), 8:55.
Lou-Guy 66 pass from Burke (R.Payne kick), 7:49.
Ky-R.Cobb 12 pass from Hartline (Seiber kick), 4:28.
First downs 19 18
Rushes-yards 40-133 33-168
Passing 245 178
Comp-Att-Int 15-29-1 20-28-1
Return Yards 1 17
Punts-Avg. 2-43.5 3-34.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-35 8-95
Time of Possession 32:32 27:28
RUSHING-Louisville, Anderson 19-110, Burke 8-17, Guy 1-4,
Powell 12-2. Kentucky, Locke 15-72, A.Smith 10-45, Conner 3-28,
Hartline 3-18, R.Cobb 1-6, Allen 1-(minus 1).
PASSING-Louisville, Burke 15-28-1-245, Team 0-1-0-0. Kentucky,
Hartline 20-27-1-178, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Louisville, Long 5-89, Beaumont 3-33, Graham 3-24,
Powell 2-21, Guy 1-66, Chichester 1-12. Kentucky, R.Cobb 6-71,
Matthews 6-34, Locke 4-47, Roark 2-15, Drake 1-6, McCaskill 1-5.