Cards 'O' a no-show in loss to Kentucky

Louisville couldn't muster any offensive points in a 27-2 blow-out loss to rival Kentucky at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Sunday afternoon.

About 10 minutes before the kickoff of today's game between the universities of Kentucky and Louisville the Cardinal mascot parachuted into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The Cardinal hit the ground, stumbled and fell head over heels.

The UofL football team was soon to follow.

UK rolled over the Cards 27-2 in front of 42,696 fans - the third-largest crowd in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

"It's a frustrating loss," Louisville center Eric Wood said. "The game plan was there, the execution wasn't. It was missed blocks, dropped passes, fumbles, interceptions, it was a combination of everything."

It wasn't what UofL fans wanted to see following last season's 6-6 campaign that saw the offense flourish and the defense struggle.

Today the Cards' defense, under new coordinator Ron English, looked improved, but the offense was offensive.

"We just couldn't do a good enough job on offense, that's the bottom line," second-year coach Steve Kragthorpe said.

UofL - which was sixth in the nation in total offense and fourth in passing offense last year behind quarterback Brian Brohm - managed just 205 yards of total offense, its lowest total since 2002.

The Cards, who have had plenty of offense over the last few years, had barely a firecracker's worth against UK. UofL rushed for just 53 yards on 29 carries. Meanwhile Hunter Cantwell, in his first game as a starting quarterback in two years, was 20 of 43 for 152 yards with three interceptions.

On the other side of the ball the defense, which last year was one of the worst in the nation, limited UK to 210 yards of total offense, including only 63 rushing yards.

"The defense played well, I'm really proud of them," Cantwell said. "But on offense it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I'm really disappointed in myself."

The temperature at kickoff was 90 degrees, which likely won't match the heat Kragthorpe will be under this week from fans.

Kragthorpe's second season, as well as the Hunter Cantwell Era, began with a three-and-out series.

But then (are you ready for this Cards' fans?), UofL's defense held the Cats.

The Cards showed some signs of life on their third series.

Doug Beaumont's end-around run gained 12 yards, but might have gone for a touchdown if not for a tackle by UK free safety Marcus McClinton.

Then two plays later Cantwell hooked up with 6-foot-8 receiver, and former basketball player, Josh Chichester for a 20-yard gain - UofL's longest play of the first quarter - to give the Cards a first down at UK's 29. The drive stalled, though, when David Jones broke up Cantwell's pass intended for Chichester near the goal line. Then new kicker Chris Philpott's 38-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by 6-foot-6 backup quarterback/wide receiver Matt Roark.

"That was a huge turning point," Wood said. The Cats took a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter on Lones Seiber's 21-yard field goal. UK started that drive on the UofL 30 after the Cats' defense pinned the Cards deep in their own territory then Dicky Lyons Jr. had a 22-yard punt return.

UofL seemed to dodge a bullet later in the period when Seiber missed a 49-yard field goal try. But on the first play of the Cards' ensuing possession Kentucky defensive tackle Myron Pryor, from Eastern High School, knocked the ball loose from running back Bilal Powell. UK strong safety Ashton Cobb scooped the ball up at the 28 and returned it for a TD as the Cats took a 10-0 lead.

UofL seemed to shake the miscue off and quickly drove downfield, but the Cards turned the ball over on downs when Brock Bolen was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at the UK 21.

"We had a whole lot of what we call drive killers and you can't do that and win," Wood said. "The drive-killers were the story of the game."

Kentucky outgained Louisville 114-104 in total yards in the first half. Cantwell was 7 for 18 for 53 yards, but he had a few drops from his receivers. Meanwhile new UK QB Mike Hartline was 10 for 19 for 93 yards.

Victor Anderson, who led UofL with 31 rushing yards, had 26 in the first half. Beaumont, who led UofL with 77 receiving yards, had 26 in the first half for the Cards.

The third quarter was an offensive standoff, or more accurately a standstill. Neither team mustered much offense, although UofL did pick up its first first down in almost a quarter.

The fourth quarter didn't begin with a bang for the Cards, but it did start with a safety.

Cory Goettsche's punt pinned UK at its own 6 to begin the period, then on the Cats' second play freshman defensive end William Savoy chased Hartline into the end zone. Hartline threw the ball away and was flagged for intentional grounding and UofL was awarded two points for a safety.

However the Cards couldn't convert on their ensuing possession, but UK did with a little help. After forcing UofL to punt, the Cats drove 56 yards in 11 plays and took a 13-2 lead on Seiber's 25-yard field goal. The Cards were flagged for two key penalties on the drive - a 15-yard face mask penalty by defensive back Johnny Patrick and a 12 men on the field penalty - that kept UK moving.

Any hopes the Cards had of a comeback were quickly dashed when Cantwell's first-down pass was tipped by UK defensive end Ventrell Jenkins and intercepted by cornerback Trevard Lindley, who returned the ball to the UofL 7. Tony Dixon ran for a TD on UK's next play as the Cats took a 20-2 lead.

It only got worse for the Cards. With UofL driving, Cantwell was hit by UK linebacker Johnny Williams and Pryor picked up the ball and rumbled 72 yards for the touchdown.

"UK came out and was just more physical than us and wore us down in the end," Cantwell said. "There's a lot to learn from."

The Cards next host Tennessee Tech at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

"It's going to be tough to get back up, but I like character of this football team and I think we will," Kragthorpe said.

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