LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Derrick Locke ran for two touchdowns and
Kentucky held off rival Louisville 23-16 Saturday, keeping the
Governor's Cup for the fourth straight season and making Joker
Phillips victorious in a matchup of longtime friends debuting as
Phillips, who gained prominence as a coordinator of a
record-breaking offense at his alma mater, has hinted this 2010
version could be as good as the Andre Woodson-led unit of three and
four years ago. The Wildcats didn't disappoint in the opener,
gobbling up yardage in bulk - particularly on the ground from
For Charlie Strong, who once coached alongside Phillips at South
Carolina and more recently guided Florida's dominating defense to
two national titles in seven years, the rebuilding project has
begun at Louisville.
Kentucky scored all but three of its points in the first half
before the offense began to stall. But Louisville's playmakers
couldn't match Kentucky's early intensity, and two key turnovers
sealed the Wildcats' first four-game winning streak since the
annual series renewed in 1994.
It didn't take Phillips long to put his own stamp on a program
he inherited from his mentor, Rich Brooks, who led it to four
consecutive bowl appearances.
After winning the toss and electing to receive - something
Brooks would never do - Kentucky needed just two explosive plays to
go 70 yards for the game's first points.
The game also marked a return to the lineup for senior
quarterback Mike Hartline, who missed seven of the Wildcats' final
eight games last season and had to fend off a challenge from two
talented underclassmen for the starting job.
First, Hartline connected with La'Rod King on a 38-yard pass.
Then, Locke burst through the line, made one spin move and ran
untouched to the end zone from 32 yards out.
The Wildcats committed no turnovers, largely thanks to the
efficient play of Hartline, who connected on 17 of 26 passes for
Kentucky went even farther - 82 yards - on its second scoring
drive. Locke got the ball on six of the Wildcats' 10 plays in that
drive, including a 1-yard sweep for his second TD in the opening
With Kentucky's offense already clicking, it was playmaker
Randall Cobb's turn to prove he is still the star.
Cobb showed his athletic ability by leaping into the air and
catching a lob with only his left hand - one of just two catches he
made in the game. Instead, he did his damage in the return game and
on the ground, and even as quarterback in the final drive as
Kentucky iced the game.
One snap after making his dazzling catch, Cobb took the ball on
an end-around and cruised down the sideline 51 yards - Kentucky's
third and final touchdown of the game.
Kentucky had built a 17-lead at that point, and a possible
blowout was brewing. Although the Wildcats never appeared in
serious jeopardy of letting the lead slip away, it was more
Louisville's mistakes that allowed them to hold on.
A holding penalty caused the Cardinals to squander a trip to the
Kentucky 5 just before halftime, managing only a field goal. The
Wildcats led 20-6 at the break.
While Kentucky showed off the far more balanced attack,
Louisville got a career-best game from senior running back Bilal
Powell, who rushed for 153 yards. He got 80 of those on a
third-quarter touchdown run, easily his longest ever, which cut the
lead to 23-13 midway through the third quarter.
A third Chris Philpott field goal trimmed the score to the final
margin, but Kentucky's defense ended other Louisville threats at a
comeback, halting consecutive late drives with turnovers. Mycyal
Bailey intercepted a pass from Adam Froman, who completed just 14
of 29 passes. Then, Ridge Wilson scooped up a ball that slipped out
of Powell's hands.
One of the few low points for Kentucky was the performance of
kicker Ryan Tydlacka, who missed an extra point and a chip field
goal attempt that could have stretched the lead.