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    In A Rollercoaster Of a Game, Louisville Football Finally Puts Away Kentucky 44-
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    For the first time since the Governor’s Cup rivalry began, the 23rd ranked University of Louisville football Cardinals (9-3, 5-3 ACC) closed out the regular season against arch rival Kentucky (5-7, 206 SEC). It wasn’t the game you expected to see. Louisville finally pulled the game out 44-40.

    The Cardinals were playing for better bowl consideration. The Wildcats just wanted to eligible for a bowl. Any bowl. They haven’t been in the post season since 2010. There is some rumbling that Louisville could end up in the Orange Bowl. Realistically, it will probably be a slightly lower tier game.

    Louisville’s freshman phenom Reggie Bonnafon left the game early in the second quarter and would not return. That put the spotlight squarely on redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle Bolin.

    Just as Teddy Bridgewater used a Kentucky game as his coming out party, so did Bolin. He passed for 381 yards and 3 touchdowns, all to future NFL star DeVante Parker who tied Ibn Green’s career TD reception stat.

    Parker’s stats were gigantic. 6 catches for 180 yards and the aforementioned 3 touchdowns. That’s an average of 30 yards a catch. Brandon Radcliff ran for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

    Things got chippy early: as in pre-game warm ups. UK tried to intimidate and the Cards wouldn’t be intimidated. Twice, large numbers of players in white and black met in a scrum with pushing and a few punches. Louisville coaches had to urge the Kentucky staff to control their players.

    It’s not known who started the physicality, but the Cats clearly had the trash talkers and thought it would be funny to throw up “L” signs and another one fingered gesture. After the teams separated to boos from the early arrivers, they continued to antagonize the crowd.

    Coach Bobby Petrino’s version of the Cards have never lost to Kentucky and the victory was his 50th as Louisville’s head man. In the week leading up to the game, much had been made of Petrino not liking UK. Whether true or not, he understands how fans treat the game and the team responded accordingly.

    To open the game, UK had a pretty impressive defensive stand that included a 9 yard sack on Reggie Bonnafon which forced the Cards into a 3-and-out. The Cardinals followed suit on Kentucky’s offensive possession.

    The early game plan was clear for Louisville: keep the ball on the ground against the Wildcat defense. And when they couldn’t find a receiver, let Bonnafon use his legs to gain a few yards. When all else failed, well, Parker plays for you, doesn’t he?

    That game plan changed pretty quickly, though.

    Bonnafon looked for Parker early and AJ Stamps intercepted the ball to put the Cats in decent field position. The used the takeaway to march into the red zone. A lucky bounce on a potential Charles Gaines interception put UK on the four. The defense held and Kentucky managed a 22 yard field goal out of it.

    First penalty of the game was, surprise, a Cardinal false start. From there, the Cats continued to play the bully and it put Louisville back on it’s heels and put them into another 3-and-out situation. After a punt and another skirmish the officials needed to do something about it. It was up to the UofL coaching staff to refocus their players.

    Kentucky tested the Louisville secondary all game with success in the first period. Ryan Johnson ended up getting his punt blocked with :11 seconds to go cemented Kentucky’s dominance in the first quarter.

    The second quarter started much like the first, with Kentucky driving and deep in the red zone. This time, though, Stanley Williams hand an 11 yard TD run. Before that, the Cardinal defense was able to keep them out.

    Bonnafon went down early in the second quarter on a scrambling run where he had to be helped off the field. Bolin took the helm of an uncharacteristically sloppy Cardinal offense. UK called a time out right away to ice the inexperienced QB.

    It didn’t work. On his second pass, Bolin threw it 45 yards to Parker for the touchdown. It was his 31st career TD reception which puts him second on the list, tied with Cardinal great Arnold Jackson.

    In short order, Louisville marched again and Michael Dyer found the end zone on a 3 yard run and the Cards took the lead after playing catch up for nearly 19 minutes.

    Bolin’s magic took a pause when Fred Tiller intercepted him for a 40 yard pick six and Louisville was back down again. It was up to Bolin to redeem himself, which he did by marching the team to another go-ahead score right before the half, 21-20.

    To open the second half, Bolin’s mojo reappeared and he threw a 33 yard strike to Parker for another touchdown. It didn’t break the game open, but it gave Parker another 100 yard game. Where would this Cardinal team be if he hadn’t missed 7 games with that foot injury.

    The remainder of the game was Louisville two steps forward and one step back. A Michael Dyer fumble on the Cardinal side of the 50 stopped and momentum sustaining drive. The defense stemmed the bleeding and UK could only kick field goals.

    Kentucky did, however, score on a Bolin fumble. His arm was going forward in a throwing motion but the ball wasn’t in it. That equals another giveaway. The fumble because a score and the Cards fell behind again.

    Parker helped Bolin redeem himself when he caught a 45 yard TD pass to go back ahead. In short order, UK marched the field to the red zone. Williams ran it in from 14 yards and the Cats went back up. And then Radcliff scored and put the Cards back up.

    A Gerod Holliman interception ended the Kentucky threat for good. It was his NCAA record tying 14th interception this season.

    Photos by: Max Sharp/Louisville.com

    Tim Girton's picture

    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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