The #11 Cards had beaten their archrival Kentucky Wildcats in the last five Governor’s Cups, but couldn’t make it six as they lost 41-38 to finish the season with a two-game losing streak.
The two teams would trade scores for most of a game in which Louisville was favored by almost 30 points. However, turnovers, the bane of the Cards’ existence in last week’s loss at Houston, again cost Louisville as they gave the ball up four times, including on a couple of key offensive drives, to allow the Cats to kick the winning field goal late.
After a dismal offensive performance against the Cougars last week, the Cards scored early against the Wildcats on a 19-yard run by Lamar Jackson two minutes into the game. It was Jackson’s 48th total touchdown this season, an ACC record.
Kentucky responded quickly however, scoring on their first possession with a 75-yard pass. The Wildcats would score again with four minutes left in the first quarter to go up 14-7.
It was a much better first quarter than last year’s Governor’s Cup, when the Wildcats went up by 21 points before Jackson and the Cards came back to win 38-24.
Jackson would tie it back up with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Bonnafon, before regaining the lead on a field goal midway through the second quarter and a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Hikutini after a Cards interception.
However, Kentucky would respond with a touchdown at the end of the first half to go into the locker room only down 24-21.
The two teams would keep trading scores for much of the second half as well, with the Wildcats regaining the lead on the first possession of the third quarter with an 18-yard touchdown run and the Cards responding with a three-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Smith before Kentucky tied it up with a field goal.
The Wildcats would regain the lead early in the fourth quarter with a 35-yard touchdown pass until Jackson would tie it back up with a one-yard touchdown run several minutes later. Louisville would recover a Kentucky fumble with two minutes left in the game, but would give the ball up themselves in the red zone.
This turnover would prove to be deciding in the game, as Kentucky was able to move the ball within field goal range and kick the game winner. Jackson’s hail mary pass as the clock wound down was picked off by the Wildcats.
In his last chance to improve his Heisman resume, Jackson would finish the game completing 16 of his 25 passes for 281 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He would also run for 171 yards on 25 carries for two touchdowns and a fumble.
In addition to the ACC single season touchdown record with 51, Jackson also now has the Louisville single season rushing record with 1,538 yards.
Louisville still had problems protecting Jackson, who was sacked multiple times this game and hurried several more.
Hikutini led all Cards receivers with seven receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Stacy Thomas led the Louisville defense with ten tackles. Junior cornerback Trumaine Washington had one interception.
The Cards finished the regular season with a 9-3 record for second place in the ACC Atlantic Division. They await their placement in a Bowl Game when the matchups are selected in early December.<