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September 17, 2011
Stuart Hines was running out of answers.
Kentucky's senior left guard and captain faced reporters after his team's 24-17 loss to Louisville and delivered the company line.
"Missed opportunities," he said, echoing his head coach. "Not making the plays."
But he retreated when asked if he felt the offensive line had a major part in the loss.
"I think it was definitely a big part," Hines said. "We didn't give Morgan enough time to throw, he got pressured all night. The rushing yards speak for themselves."
The Wildcats (2-1) had just 35 rushing yards on 32 carries. Junior quarterback Morgan Newton was sacked six times, and Louisville's defense had 14 tackles for loss. Louisville (2-1) claimed its first win in the series since 2006 when true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdowns in relief of injured senior Will Stein.
Kentucky scored on the opening drive to take a 3-0 lead, but struggled to finish drives all night. But the Cardinals responded and led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. They wouldn't trail again. Bridgewater threw a 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to take a 24-10 lead and while the Wildcats had a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes, they turned it over on downs on the Louisville red zone with 46 seconds to play.
Newton's career-high 255 passing yards and a career day weren't enough to power Kentucky's offense, which had minus-four yards in the third quarter as Louisville pulled away.
"They were playing good defense," Hines said. "We were playing bad offense."
Neither freshman Josh Clemons or junior CoShik Williams could break through Louisville's defense. Williams' nine-yard run was the longest by a tailback all night.
For the offensive line, which has battled injuries and inconsistency, it was another disappointment in a season of injuries and questions.
"Regardless of whatever excuse we want to throw out there, it needs to be better," offensive line coach Mike Summers said. "If we're going to win games, it's going to have to be better."
As the Kentucky offense sputtered, Louisville rolled up 181 yards on the ground. Tailbacks Dominique Brown, Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson[/db] all averaged at least five yards per carry.
"When you run the ball for 35 yards, it's not good enough," Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips said. "I'm not saying they were all on the offensive line, but still not good enough. So it would be crazy for me to sit here and say they played good enough to win."
Kentucky pulled within a touchdown with just under five minutes to go and forced Louisville to punt after three plays, but couldn't finish the comeback. Newton missed on a fourth down pass before Louisville kneeled the clock out for its first win in the rivalry since 2006.
"It was just a game of missed opportunities," Phillips said. "But a hard-fought game. I really appreciate their effort, but we can't miss opportunities."
Junior wide receiver Gene McCaskill suffered a back injury in the first half. Junior right guard Larry Warford injured his ankle in the second half, but was able to finish the game. Phillips said they would be evaluated on Sunday.
Junior center Matt Smith played for the first time this season and played the entire second half. He had missed the first two weeks with an ankle injury. Senior right tackle Billy Joe Murphy did not play.
-Newton posted career highs in completions (27) and yards (255). "We had more opportunities to throw the ball this game," Newton said. He had 36 attempts combined in the first two games and 41 on Saturday.
-Kentucky had won four consecutive meetings before Saturday's loss. Before that, Louisville had won four straight in the series. No team has won five in a row since the series was resurrected in 1994.
-The loss snapped a 21-game regular season nonconference winning streak for Kentucky, the longest in school history.
-Junior wide receiver LaRod King had a career-high seven catches for 87 yards. Fields, who had never caught a pass before the game, finished with seven catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
-Junior linebacker Danny Trevathan extended his streak of games with double-digit tackles. Trevathan had 12 tackles. He's had at least 10 tackles in 12 consecutive games.