Despite a trio of first quarter turnovers that led to a quick 21-0 deficit, Louisville outscored host Kentucky 38-3 for the remainder of the game, including 31-0 in the second half to defeat the rivals 38-24 and retain the Governor's Cup.
"I'm just really proud of our players," said Petrino. "I'm really proud of our assistant coaches. Obviously, we didn't get off to the best start in the world. We rallied at halftime. Our guys did a good job of keeping their poise and then we really came out and competed extremely hard in the second half and found a way to come back and win the game."
Overcoming the 21-point first half hole, the Cardinals notched the program's second biggest comeback in school history.
Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson came off the bench to lead the comeback, throwing for 130 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 186 yards - a new U of L single game for a quarterback. Jackson, who earned MVP honors for his performance, also established a new school record for single season total offense, finishing with 2,347 yards during the regular season.
"I thought he really grew up," Petrino said of the rookie. "He made some great plays. He was running the ball, throwing it and I think that's the thing that was good for me to see. He just really concentrated on reading the plays, not guessing and not making a pre-determined decision."
The Cardinals defense was led by junior defensive end Devonte Fields, who recorded 2.5 sacks and his six tackles for a loss is one shy of the school record for a single game set by Elvis Dumervil, also against Kentucky.
Louisville improves its modern series record against the Wildcats to 14-7 and the win evened the overall series at 14-14. The Cardinals become the first program to win five straight in the Governor's Cup era.