ITV Player of the Game: Eric Shelton"> ITV Player of the Game: Eric Shelton">

Cards storm Commonwealth, top Cats, 40-24

After a 90 minute rain delay prior to the scheduled kickoff, Head Coach Bob Petrino's Louisville Cardinals came out strong in the Battle of the Bluegrass, leading wire to wire and defeating arch-rival Kentucky, 40-24. <p> <a href=""><b>ITV Player of the Game:</b> Eric Shelton</a>

After an hour and a half rain storm that delayed the opening kickoff of the Battle of the Bluegrass, the Louisville Cardinals came out confident and aggressive and immediately put the Kentucky Wildcats on their heels.


"We told them to relax," Petrino said of the advice he and staff gave to the Cards during the 90 minute rain delay. "And I thought they were ready to go when we took the field."

And ready they were. The Cards received the opening kickoff and proceeded eighty yards in eleven plays for the games first score on an Eric Shelton six yard run and a 7-0 lead a little more than five minutes into the game.

Faced with third and ten in its own territory to start the game, first year starter Stefan LeFors connected with WR Broderick Clark for a 31 yard gain down the right sideline. Nine plays later, Shelton hit pay dirt for his first touchdown as a Cardinal. Shelton carried six times on the opening drive for 41 yards and established the tone for the rest of the game.

Moments later, UofL CB Gavin Smart intercepted a Shane Boyd pass intended for Derek Abney and raced 41 yards down the left sideline to set up the Cards second touchdown of the game.

Taking over on Kentucky's four yard line, LeFors connected with fullback D.J. Kamer in the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 6:39 remaining in the first quarter.

After the Cards second touchdown, the two teams traded punts and with just under one minute remaining in the opening quarter, Kentucky's Taylor Begley connected from 44 yards out to narrow the gap to 14-3.

The Cats were forced to punt to open the second quarter, setting up the second big play for the Cards in the opening half.

Forced to punt on fourth and eight, Kentucky's Sevin Sucurovic's punt was blocked by J.R. Russell and recovered in the endzone by Johnathan Jackerson for a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Kentucky then drove 13 plays but was stopped on fourth and one at the Louisville 28 and the Cards took over on downs.

After driving to the UK 31 yard line with less than three minutes left in the first half, LeFors made his first and only big mistake of the game, throwing an interception to Mohammed Abdullah.

Just before the half, Jared Lorenzen led UK on a seven play drive that resulted in a 13 yard touchdown pass to Glen Holt that cut the Cardinals lead to 21-10 heading into the locker room.

With momentum, UK received the opening kickoff of the second half but was forced to punt from deep in its own territory when Sucurovic fumbled the snap and the ball was kicked out of the endzone for a Cardinal safety and a 23-10 Louisville advantage.

Following the safety, the Cards drove 64 yards in 7 plays, keyed by Lionel Gates 36 yard run, before stalling near the endzone. Nate Smith then connected from 25 yards out for a 26-10 lead.

But the rest of the third quarter belonged to the Cats, as the home team scored tocuhdowns in its last two third quarter series to narrow the lead to 26-24 at the end of the third quarter.

On the first of the Cats two third quarter scoring drives, the Cats marched 80 yards in 9 plays that culminated in a Draak Davis 1 yard touchdown run.

On it's next possession, UK went 74 yards in 8 plays and scored when Lorenzon connected with freshman receiver Kennon Burton for a 31 yard touchdown pass.

Needing to regain momentum and answer the Cats two late third quarter scores, Lefors and the Cards went to work.

With the UK crowd loud and rowdy, LeFors connected with tight end Ronnie Ghent for 14 yards to begin the drive. During the drive, LeFors converted two third and fours, connecting with Joshua Tinch and Broderick Clark for five yard gains to move the chains. But the play of the drive and perhaps the game came on fourth and three from the UK 26.

1-0 as starter 
LeFors dropped back to pass, felt pressure from the UK defense and took off for a gain of three yards and a first down to keep the Cards drive and hopes alive. On the next play, Shelton went around the right end for a 22 yard touchdown to put the Cards up 33-24 with under 12 minutes left in the game.

"I thought that showed a lot of character," Petrino said of the answering drive. "Our players were into this game and were very confident."

Needing a quick score, UK drove to the UofL 20 yard line in 8 plays and looked poised to strike pay dirt once again. But UofL's Josh Minkins intercepted Lorenzon on the Louisville 2 yard line and set up the Cards late game clock eating final drive.

With 8:17 left in the game, the Cards took over on its own 8 yard line and protecting a nine point advantage. The next eight minutes could be termed the Eric Shelton show.

Needing to move the ball and eat the clock, Shelton carried 9 times and gained 45 yards, moving the chains and burning Kentucky's remaining timeouts. With 6 seconds left in the game, Lionel Gates scored on a two yard run to give the Cards a 40-24 victory and its fourth win in the last five games of the series.

"It's UK...we had to put 40 on them," LeFors said of the decision to score during the games final seconds. "We just played better than they did."

Shelton carried 25 times for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Junior running back Lionel Gates ran for 75 yards on 13 carries as the Cards rushed for 244 yards on 44 carries.

"I'm going to be sore in the morning," Shelton said afterward.

Receiver Broderick Clark caught 6 passes for 94 yards and J.R. Russell pulled in 3 catches for 45 yards.

Starting his first game for the Cards, junior quarterback Stefan LeFors completed 14-23 passes for 180 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

On defense, safety Brent Johnson led the way with 9 tackles. End Marcus Jones made 6 solo tackles, 2 TFL and 2 sacks. Kerry Rhodes made 7 tackles, Tyrone Saterfield has 6 tackles and linebacker Robert McCune made 7 tackles. Gavin Smart and Josh Minkins both intercepted a pass.

"Coach Gillhamer did a wonderful job preparing us," Minkins said following the game. "Our defense is only going to get better. There's no individualism on this defense..we're a unit..this win sets the tone."

The Cards will take its 1-0 record on the road in two weeks to face future Big East foe Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.


Brian Brohm was on the sidelines as a guest of the Kentucky football program. Brohm made an unofficial visit to UK for the game.

UofL freshman Amobi Okoye played in Sunday's contest on the Cardinal defensive line. Okoye is listed as 16 years old by the UofL football program.

The often maligned UofL offensive line played great, limiting the Cats to just one sack and opening holes for the Cardinal ground attack to gain 244 yards.

"They did great," LeFors said of the offensive line. "I barely got touched."

The Cards have now won four of the past five meetings with Kentucky and three straight in Commonwealth. The Cards hold a 6-4 advantage during the modern series.

Freshman Kolby Smith did not play because of injury but is expected to resume practicing this Wednesday.

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