Tensions run high as Louisville retakes Governor’s Cup from UK football


Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson (6) and Louisville Cardinals running back Malik Williams (29) get into a fight during the game against Louisville on Saturday, November 25, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Chase Campbell

In the 24th consecutive Governor’s Cup football game between UK and Louisville on Saturday, the Cardinals exacted their revenge against the Cats by dominating them on their home field, 44-17.

2016 Heisman winner and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson thrust himself back into the national conversation with a dazzling performance, picking up 372 total yards of UL’s 562 in the game. The Cards’ offense flowed through Jackson, and there wasn’t much that UK could do to stop him.

To try to counter Jackson’s stuffed stat sheet, UK running back Benny Snell Jr. tied the school record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by scoring his 17th in the first quarter of the game. He finished with 211 total yards on 29 carries, marking his seventh 100-yard game of the season.

This game was also the first time UK has had a 200-yard rusher since Artose Pinner ran for 224 in 2002. Unfortunately for UK, it wasn’t enough to overcome the offensive attack Louisville poured on.

What happened nearly as much as the football, however, was the fighting. In the first quarter, Jackson was tackled on UK’s one-yard line, just short of a touchdown. UK linebacker Jordan Jones got in Jackson’s face after the play, to which Jackson responded by shoving Jones.

Jones and Jackson wrestled each other to the ground, and then both teams got involved in the fight as referees tried to separate them. After the referees succeeded in initially separating the teams, they got back into a scuffle seconds later before heading back to their sidelines. No player was ejected in the altercation, and there were offsetting penalties on both teams.

Through the rest of the game, altercations between players continued to break out as Louisville continued to put points on the board, carrying a 31-10 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, Jones again showed his distaste for his in-state rival as he picked up two consecutive unnecessary roughness penalties in a row to give the Cardinals 30 unearned yards. During the same drive, defensive end Denzil Ware picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty to add another 15 yards to Louisville’s drive.

After Snell’s initial touchdown in the first quarter and a field goal by Austin MacGinnis in the second, the Cats were held to only one score the rest of the game, a touchdown run by Snell.

UK only picked up 110 yards on 19 attempts through the air, and UK quarterback Stephen Johnson only completed 42 percent of his passes in the game.

Kroger Field was nearly devoid of Cats fans by the time the final horn sounded. Louisville retook the Governor’s Cup from UK, who took it in Louisville last season after a 41-38 win.

UK’s final game of the season will now be a bowl game, which will be announced after the completion of the conference championships. UK finishes the regular season 7-5, matching last year’s mark.