Kentucky Stuns No. 11 Louisville, 41-38
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Austin MacGinnis hit a 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the game, lifting Kentucky to a 41-38 upset victory over 11th-ranked Louisville on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
With the game tied at 38-38, Louisville drove down the field, appearing to be going in for the winning score. But Cardinal quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Heisman Trophy favorite, fumbled inside the red zone, and Kentucky’s Courtney Love recovered, ending the threat.
Kentucky took over at their own 10 yard line with just 1:45 remaining in the game. Rather than play for overtime, the Cats went for the win.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson hit receiver Jeff Badet with a 29-yard pass to get the Wildcats near midfield. Johnson then ran left, picking up 15 more yards and getting Kentucky into Cardinals’ territory.
After a three more plays got the ball to the Louisville 29, the Wildcats faced fourth down with 18 seconds left. And that’s when Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops turned to MacGinnis, who also beat Mississippi State with a game-winning field goal earlier in the season. Saturday’s kick was right down the middle, with length to spare.
Johnson, a junior quarterback who has now won five games as a starter, more than held his own against Louisville’s star quarterback. Johnson passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 83 yards in the game. Garrett Johnson also had a big day, catching five passes for 164 yards and a pair of scores.
The game between these intrastate rivals was a back-and-forth affair all day long. Louisville took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, covering 84 yards in five plays. Jackson capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 advantage.
But Kentucky had the answer. On the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage, junior quarterback Stephen Johnson connected with Garrett Johnson on a 75-yard scoring strike to tie the game at 7-7.
Later in the first quarter, Kentucky took the lead when Boom Williams rushed around the left end and scampered 36 yards for the score, giving Kentucky a 14-7 lead.
But Louisville came right back, driving 70 yards in 12 plays, culminating with a Jackson pass to Reggie Bonnafon, tying the game at 14-14.
The Cardinals drove inside the Kentucky one yard line in the second quarter, but the Wildcat defense came up with a key goal line stand. Louisville kicker Blanton Creque connected on a 19-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 17-14 lead.
Louisville extended its lead to 24-14, but Kentucky would not go away. The Wildcats went back to the Johnson-to-Johnson combination to cut into the lead. Stephen Johnson connected with Garrett Johnson for a second score, this one from 63 yards out, to cut the Louisville lead to 24-21, which would be the halftime score.
Kentucky took the second half kickoff and wasted no time, covering 75 yards in nine plays. And when Benny Snell, Jr. scored from 18 yards out on a rush out of the Wildcat formation, Kentucky took a 28-24 lead.
The back-and-forth between the rivals continued when Louisville took a 31-28 lead on a Jeremy Smith touchdown rush. But Kentucky answered that score with its longest drive of the game. This time, the Wildcats covered 60 yards in 13 plays, taking more than six and a half minutes off the clock. And when MacGinnis hit a field goal from 35 yards, the game was tied again, this time at 31-31.
On Louisville’s next possession, Kentucky’s Mike Edwards picked off a Jackson pass, setting up the Wildcats with good field position. But the ensuing drive stalled until Johnson connected with Dorian Baker on a 35-yard scoring pass to give the Wildcats a 38-31 lead.
Louisville got the ball back and quickly got into Kentucky territory. But with the Cardinals on the doorstep of tying the game again, Kentucky senior defensive back Blake McClain intercepted Jackson at the goal line, ending the Cardinal threat.
But Kentucky was forced to punt, and Louisville took over and Jackson engineered another scoring drive, which he finished with a one-yard scoring run, tying the game at 38-38.
Kentucky will now wait to find out its bowl fate. That decision will come next weekend, and all bowl information can be found on UKathletics.com.