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The 'Cats vs. The Cards: Louisville Adjusts, Kentucky Implodes

Kentucky blows a 21-0 lead and loses in embarrassing fashion, again.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

One win to erase all the bad vibes the Big Blue Nation had going over the last 2 months.  The win would not erase that we got embarrassed by Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Georgia.  However, it would erase the bad taste in our mouths.

Beating Louisville would curb the absolute domination of Bobby Petrino over Kentucky.  It would put Louisville also at 6-6 and give the program momentum to passing the Cardinals in overall progress.  It would also put Kentucky into a bowl, and likely a better bowl than we all think.

1st Quarter

The day was dreary from the outset and rained on and off all game.  The ‘Cats got the ball first and appeared to be starting slow as they lined up for a 3rd and 12.  Drew Barker hung in on a collapsing pocket with unexpected poise and hit Juice Johnson across midfield for a huge gain and momentum builder.

A big Boom Williams run along with a perfectly called screen on a blitz set up the ‘Cats first and goal.  Barker then perfectly ran a read option on third and goal and strolled in for the score to go up 7-0.

On the ensuing Cardinals possession, Kyle Bolin was rushed and overshot his receiver right into A.J. Stamps arms for an interception and big return setting up the ‘Cats first and goal.  Boom Williams would power in to give the ‘Cats a big 14-0 lead just 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the game.

Louisville was driving to a seeming answering TD when Kyle Bolin was running out of pocket to a rush and tried forcing a pass to the sideline, the senior Josh Forrest, on Senior Day, picked off the pass and ran it back 81 yards for a pick-6 and a 21-0 lead.  Forrest got a flag for throwing the ball into the stands, but who cares, it's his last game at Commonwealth.

Lamar Jackson would take over for the Cardinals and immediately toss a 40-yard pass to get the 'Cards into the redzone.  Two plays later, Jackson would do what almost every running quarterback has done to UK; he would reach the end zone to get the Cardinals back to 21-7.

2nd Quarter

The second quarter began with UK driving and sitting at midfield.  While the 'Cats could not capitalize, they did pin the Cardinals on the 5 yard line.  After a three and out and a severely shanked punt, the 'Cats would start the drive on the Louisville 25 yard line.

Kentucky could not muster anything else and ended up losing yards, setting up a gimpy Austin MacGinnis from 51 yards.  He would come up short and the 'Cats missed a golden opportunity.  UK was facing the possibility of dominating the first half but only going in with a TD lead if UL could take advantage.

The Cardinals seemed to be rolling right along to a TD when J.D. Harmon stepped in front of a pass at the goal line and picked it off (UK's third of the half).  He would return it to the 30 yard line and set up the 'Cats for a potential lead extending drive, at the very least UK could flip the field.

Mikel Horton would singlehandedly get the 'Cats to the UL five yard line when he took a screen pass around midfield for a 17 yard gain on 3rd down and 15.  Then a run off tackle broke free down to the five yard line setting up first and goal. Kentucky could not capitalize and ended up getting a Miles Butler field goal to take a 24-7 lead into halftime.

3rd Quarter

The 'Cats kicked off the start the half and like something out of a video game, the kickoff was caught at the five yard line and the returner could not stop his momentum, stepping out of bounds there.

Both teams traded punts before UL was able to put together a scoring drive with a John Wallace field goal to bring it to 24-10.  The UK defense got gashed but bucked up near the red zone to force the field goal.

Louisville tightened the noose even more when they closed out the third quarter with a 6-play TD drive that looked like hot knife going through butter.  Kentucky seemed to be playing not to lose with their halftime lead at this point.

Kentucky would go three and out once again, only to see UL once again run through D.J. Eliot's defense with a 4-play drive ending in a quasi-prayer hail mary to James Quick who out worked the UK DB.  The game would be tied at 24-24 going into the 4th and final stanza.

4th Quarter

Kentucky would once again go three and out to start the fourth quarter.  Louisville would oblige and go three and out, only for Kentucky to once again return the favor.  This time, though, Kentucky would punt from its own end zone and hit the return guy early to set the Cardinals up in prime fashion on UK's 34 yard line.

Just a few plays later the Cardinals finished of a very easy drive to take a 31-24 lead.  The Cardinals had outscored UK 31-3 since the first quarter to this point.

Kentucky could not muster anything once again and after another deep in their own territory the Cardinals took over deep in UK territory and ended up scoring wth you guessed it, a Lamar Jackson run to take the lead 38-24.

It would be the final death blow in an embarrassing loss for the 'Cats.  They trotted out Patrick Towles for the final two series to try and create a spark but at that point it was already done.

To make things worse, the game was under a minute and about 90% of the stadium was gone, the Louisville section was so loud with the UofL chant it seemed like we were in Jefferson County.

Whether or not UK goes to a weird 5-7 bowl is moot, Coach Stoops has a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason.