It was supposed to be a game that featured offensive highlight after highlight from the Louisville offense. Instead, the U of L defense recorded its first shutout since a 52-0 win over Grambling in 2000.
"It's awesome to look up on the scoreboard a see a zero," said defensive tackle Bobby Leffew of the shutout.
"I was extremely proud of our defense," said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino. "They worked extremely hard all winter, all spring and summer."
Louisville's offense remained conservative throughout the game, with head coach Bobby Petrino sticking with the groud game for 70% of the Cardinals offensive plays. Senior Lionel Gates led the way, rushing for 112 yards on just 14 attempts.
"We ran the ball real well," said Petrino. "We were a little conservative with our play calling.
Louisville opened the game marching 79 yards to the Kentucky 1-yard line where the UK defense stopped the Cardinals on a fourth and goal attempt. It was the only scoring threat for either team during the opening period.
Freshman quarterback Brian Brohm entered the game late in the first quarter and then helped direct the Cardinals scoring drive. Brohm threw for 29 yards and junior running back Eric Shelton rushed for 19 yards during the 69-yard drive. Gates capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run at the 6:27 mark of the second quarter.
Neither team threated for the remainder of the half and the favored Cardinals took a surprisingly slim 7-0 lead to the locker room.
Following a 44-yard kickoff return by UK's Keenan Burton to open the second half, Louisville's defense sent the blitz and quarterback Shane Boyd threw an ill-advised pass, which was intercepted by Kerry Rhodes and returned 56 yards for a touchdown, giving U of L a 14-0 advantage.
"When we threw the interception up for the touchdown, it took whatever wind we did have in our sails away from us," said UK head coach Rick Brooks.
Late in the third quarter Stefan LeFors connected with Michael Bush for a 41-yard strike, when would lead to a touchdown pass from LeFors to Borderick Clark and a 21-0 Cardinal lead.
Louisville would add a final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter when Gates rushed 1-yard for the score, capping off a nine play, 55-yard drive.
"It's good way to start the season, but we have a lot of work to do still," said LeFors.
The Cardinals ground game rushed for 261 yards, while the U of L defense limited the Wildcats to just 66-yards.
"Obviously Louisville did a really good job and dominated the line of scrimmage," said Rick Brooks, who is 0-2 against U of L. "Physically, they won the war in the trenches."
Louisville will next face Army in both school's Conference USA opener on Saurday, September 11th at Michie Stadium in West Point, New York.