UC was able to respond with a 40-yard kick off return by Ralph Abernathy IV to put themselves in great starting field position. After a few short runs, the Bearcats faced third down just outside of Louisville territory. Munchie Legaux broke lose for what looked like a first down, however, the play was called back due to a holding call. The next play, Legaux threw an interception. The Cincinnati defense responded by forcing the Cardinals to go three and out, giving the ball right back to the Bearcats offense. Abernathy finished off the ensuing drive with a Barry Sanders-esque 14-yard touchdown run off of a reverse, making the score 10-7 in favor of the Bearcats.
The second quarter began with the Bearcats threatening, inside Louisville territory. However, Legax forced a pass into coverage and was intercepted, again putting the Cards in solid field position. Once again, the Bearcats defense was up to the challenge, forcing the Louisville defense to punt after a five play, eight-yard drive. The following punt was muffed by Cincinnati receiver Anthony McClung, who dropped it at the five-yard line and rushed back to recover it in the end zone, which resulted in a touchback, much to the dismay of the Louisville crowd and coaches. The ensuing shouting match by the Cardinals coaching staff resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the ball to Cincinnati at their own 35-yard line. Cincinnati was not able to take advantage of the circumstances, going three and out. The next drive saw the Cincinnati defense buckle down once again, forcing Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater into an interception deep inside their own territory. After senior linebacker Maalik Bomar made the interception, the Bearcats offense took over at Louisville's 19-yard line, capping off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run by Legaux.
Louisville immediately answered the UC touchdown drive, putting together a 13-play, 80 yard touchdown drive of their own, making the score 17-14 Cincinnati going into halftime.
The second half started with Cincinnati's best drive of the night, a 10 play, 73-yard drive that saw Ralph Abernathy IV get his second rushing touchdown of the game with his four-yard plunge on the Bearcats opening drive. The Cardinals responded with a clock dwindling, nearly seven minute long drive that saw them put three points on the board, making the score 24-17 in favor of the Bearcats. UC and Louisville then alternated back to back three and outs, giving the Bearcats the lead going into the fourth quarter, 24-17.
The fourth quarter saw the offensive explosion many fans figured this game would turn out to be. The Cards got the action started with a 30-yard strike from Bridgewater, tying the game at 24-24. After a long UC drive ended in a missed field goal, Louisville responded with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to DeVante Parker, giving U of L their first lead since the first quarter. UC took over with 1:53 left in the game and 60 yards to go. They responded with a fantastic three-play, 59 yard drive that saw Munchie Legaux hit receiver Damon Julian for a 26-yard, game tying touchdown with a little over one minute left in the game, forcing overtime.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, overtime is where things unraveled. After two straight running plays to start the overtime period, Legaux felt pressure on third down and lofted a pass into the end zone in the direction of tight end Travis Kelce. The pass was well underthrown and easily intercepted by Cardinals safety Terrel Floyd, ending the Cincinnati drive, and their chance for the win. Louisville nearly blew their own chance for the win when they botched the snap on the first game winning field goal attempt. Luckily for the Cardinals, UC head coach Butch Jones called a timeout just before the snap, allowing Louisville to set up the another try. This time, they executed the kick just fine, winning the game on kicker John Wallace's 30-yard attempt.
This will be a tough loss for the Bearcats to swallow, as they had more than their fair share of chances to win. However, they cannot get caught up in what-ifs and focus on getting off this losing streak. Either way, losing that keg of nails trophy will sting for a bit; hopefully that sting will whip this squad back into shape.