LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky's defense looked plenty capable
of carrying the Wildcats until the offense catches up.
Ashton Cobb returned a Louisville fumble 28 yards for a
touchdown and Myron Pryor returned another fumble 72 yards for a
score as the Wildcats embarrassed Louisville 27-2 in the Governor's
Cup on Sunday.
Tony Dixon added a 7-yard touchdown run for the Wildcats, who
have won two straight over their archrivals for the first time in a
Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline threw for 147 yards and
avoided major mistakes in his first college start, and the
Wildcats' defense shut down Louisville, holding the Cardinals
without a touchdown for the first time since a shutout loss to
Florida State in 2000.
Kentucky forced five turnovers and stuffed Louisville's retooled
offense, playing with the kind tenacity coach Rich Brooks said the
Wildcats would need early in the season while his team's
inexperienced offense found its footing. Kentucky held Louisville,
which averaged 416.5 yards per game a year ago, to just 205 yards.
Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe was hoping for a fresh start
after a disappointing debut last season. Instead, the Cardinals
appear to have plenty of work ahead if they want to climb back
toward the top of the Big East.
While the defense showed significant improvement under new
coordinator Ron English - holding the Wildcats to 210 yards of
total offense - the offense looked overwhelmed at times.
Hunter Cantwell, who spent the last three seasons as an
understudy to former Louisville star Brian Brohm, turned it over
four times in the fourth quarter as the Cardinals tried to rally.
His first interception led to Dixon's touchdown that put the
Wildcats up 20-2, and Pryor later pounced on Cantwell's fumble and
rumbled for a score to send the third-largest crowd in Cardinal
Stadium history streaking to the exit. Cantwell finished 20-of-43
for 152 yards and three interceptions.
Hartline, who won the starting quarterback job almost by default
after Curtis Pulley was dismissed on Aug. 5 for a violation of team
rules, looked crisp on shorter routes but struggled to throw
downfield. He threw for 147 yards and no touchdowns, but did his
best not to force things, settling for short passes or throwing the
ball away when nothing developed.
Hartline's only major mistake came early in the fourth quarter
when he was called for intentional grounding in the end zone,
resulting in a safety.
The Wildcats forced a punt on the ensuing possession, but
Louisville appeared to get a break when the punt glanced off
Kentucky's Dicky Lyons and the Cardinals recovered. Officials,
however ruled Louisville's Bilal Powell interfered with Lyons even
though replays showed Powell backing away from Lyons when the ball
Kentucky turned the reprieve into Lones Seiber's field goal, and
the Cardinals began to self-destruct.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)