The Cardinals leaned on a potent rushing attack in the second half to wear down and hold off upset-minded Kentucky 27-13 on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, their third consecutive win in the Governor's Cup rivalry.
Louisville (3-0) finished with 242 rushing yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Senorise Perry led the way with 100 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns. Michael Dyer added 62 yards on 11 attempts, while Dominique Brown and quarterback Teddy Bridgewateradded 45 and 44 yards, respectively.
Bridgewater threw for 250 yards and a touchdown, but was often frustrated by the Wildcats' defense in the first half of a surprisingly low-scoring game. The Cardinals opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 83-yard drive to turn a 10-3 lead into a 17-3 advantage and never looked back.
A 10-play, 94-yard drive for a John Wallace field goal made it 20-3 on Louisville's next possession, effectively ending the game against a UK offense that struggled most of the afternoon.
Kentucky (1-2) was its own worst enemy throughout the game, committing three turnovers -- two in the red zone -- and went 0-for-13 on third-down conversions. Six Wildcat trips inside the Louisville 30-yard line produced only two field goals and a fourth-quarter touchdown when the game was out of reach.
"I told them that we're never going to accept losing, but I am proud of them," UK head coach Mark Stoops said. "We prepared to win, we played hard, but we just didn't make the plays to win."
Kentucky's two-headed quarterback of Max Smith and Jalen Whitlow were both plagued by numerous drops by their passing targets. Smith was also part of a botched hand-off play to Raymond Sanders which resulted in a fumble when it appeared UK was driving for a touchdown to tie the game at the half.
Smith was 9-of-20 for 109 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter with shoulder pain. Whitlow finished 8-of-17 for 105 yards and a touchdown, but also threw a costly interception at Louisville's 1-yard line on UK's first possession in the third quarter when it appeared the Wildcats would answer the Cardinals' long scoring drive.
"We had our opportunities," Stoops said. "... We're going to keep working hard to get better and make those winning plays."
Freshman running back JoJo Kemp had an impressive showing for the UK offense, rushing for 80 yards on five carries, including a 47-yard run
"He's a player. We've got to find a way to get it into his hands more often," Stoops said.
Linebacker Avery Williamson recorded 15 tackles for the UK defense.