Cats' offense a no-show in loss to Cards

Louisville held Kentucky to only 213 total yards and no offensive touchdowns in Saturday's game...

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- That "How did this happen?" look was nothing new at Commonwealth Stadium.

Only on this occasion, Kentucky's usually charitable defense wasn't the culprit. The Wildcats' high-powered offense failed to show up for Saturday's season opener against arch-rival Louisville, and the Cardinals took advantage en route to a convincing 36-10 victory.

Many in the predominantly blue-clad crowd of 70,838 left in shock after Louisville (2-0) held Kentucky to only 213 total yards and no offensive touchdowns only nine days after surrendering 544 yards and 24 points to New Mexico State. The Cats managed just 155 yards through the air, "earned" nearly a third of their 18 first downs via Cardinal penalties, and committed four costly turnovers.

"That we didn't score, I just can't believe that," said sophomore quarterback Jared Lorenzen, who completed only 12 of 31 attempts for 121 yards (61 on the game's final and insignificant drive). "That's just horrible."

Shane Boyd (7) scrambles

As exected, Lorenzen split time with backup Shane Boyd. The redshirt freshman wasn't much better, completing three of six attempts for 34 yards. Both UK quarterbacks threw one interception and coughed up a fumble.

Kentucky's allegedly beefed-up running game wasn't much help, either, accounting for only 58 yards on 28 carries against a Cardinal defense that surrendered 404 in their opener.

"It was embarrassing," Boyd said of his collegiate debut, which included a fumble that halted a second-quarter drive in the red zone.

"It seemed like we could never get in a rhythm," sophomore receiver Derek Abney said. "We tried to get our running game going to set up the pass, and that didn't work. We tried to throw the ball to set up our running game, and that didn't work either. Nothing seemed to click. (The receivers) just couldn't get on the same page as the quarterbacks."

Kentucky's Guy Morriss, who saw his head coaching debut spoiled, said he didn't think alternating quarterbacks had an impact on the lack of offensive production.

"We couldn't find any kind of spark from our offense today," he said. "We couldn't get anything going with either of them."

Instead, he thought the Cats' offensive unit suffered from a case of overconfidence.

"You can't just show up and expect to win," Morriss said. "You can talk, you can work hard, you can do everything in the world to get ready, but when it comes right down to it, at 12:37 you have to go out and prove you're the better team....

"It's a bitter lesson to have to learn, but I think we'll be a better football team down the road because of today."

The win marked the third straight in the rivalry for Louisville, who had never accomplished that feat previously against Kentucky. The Cards own a 5-3 advantage in the series since it was renewed in 1994.

"I'm proud of the way the kids played," Louisville coach John L. Smith said. "And I'm proud of the coaches. Without a doubt, we did a good job putting together a game plan and we were more disciplined with the kids in practice."

Dave Ragone (15) fires

Louisville showed just how ready it was after taking the opening possession. It took the Cards only 49 seconds to seize the lead as quarterback Dave Ragone and Zek Parker burned UK cornerback Jeremy Bowie on an 82-yard touchdown pass.

Kentucky's defense stiffened through halftime, though, and thanks to Abney's 47-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Cats trailed only 10-7 at the break.

Seth Hanson's 36-yard field goal tied the game at 10 with 10:19 remaining in the third quarter.

But that would mark the end of the Cats' scoring threats, and Louisville was just getting warmed up against a UK defense wearing down from the time it was having to spend on the field.

Louisville immediately responded with a nine-play, 66-yard drive capped by Ragone's 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ronnie Ghent at the 7:17 mark. The extra point failed, but it hardly mattered.

The Cards posted another 11-yard TD pass from Ragone to Ghent to start the fourth quarter, picking on UK's true freshman linebacker, Dustin Williams, who was forced into action after senior Ronnie Riley suffered a knee injury during the drive.

A Lorenzen fumbled snap on the next play from scrimmage set up T.J. Patterson's 11-yard scoring run to make it 29-10 with 9:32 and trigger a mass blue exodus at Commonwealth.

Patterson, who had 72 yards on 17 carries, added a 6-yard TD run with 2:54 left to cap the scoring.

Dennis Johnson (56)
takes down T.J. Patterson

"The defense played well enough the first three and a half quarters that they were keeping us close enough to have a shot to win the ballgame," Morriss said. "We just couldn't find anyone to step up and make a play offensively.... The fact that it got away from us was due to the defense being left on the field so long."

Ragone, a junior considered by some to be the nation's top quarterback, finished with 368 yards on 21-of-34 passing. The left-hander had three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"He's a great quarterback, no doubt," Morriss said. "And they hit some big plays on us."

"We came out focused and were a lot better than we were last week," Ragone said. "We played four quarters with intensity."

The Cards' Parker finished with six receptions for 184 yards, while Deion Branch added 82 yards on six catches.

Kentucky returns to action next week at home against Ball State while Louisville plays host to Western Carolina.

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