MacGinnis field goal lifts UK past Louisville, Jackson


during the Wildcats game against the Louisville Cardinals at Papa John’s Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Anthony Crawford

For the first time in the Mark Stoops Era and first time since 2010, UK football came away from the Governor’s Cup matchup with rival No. 11 Louisville victorious, winning 41-38 on the road in Papa John Stadium.

The game was a back-and-forth affair full of offense, but turnovers proved to be the Cardinals downfall as a fumble from UofL quarterback Lamar Jackson at the UK 10-yard line set up a drive that ended in a game-winning field from Cats kicker Austin MacGinnis. 

The two teams combined for over 1,100 yards total offense and that starts with Jackson leading the Cardinals high-powered attack. Jackson played nothing short of the Heisman frontrunner is projected to be at this point 281 yards passing and 171 rushing yards for four total touchdowns in the game.

Three interceptions from Jackson and the aforementioned fumble helped UK stay in the game and in come through with the go-ahead field goal, but UK’s offense did it’s best to keep up as well. 

UofL started the game with a five-play, 84-yard drive for a touchdown, but UK’s quick counter of a 75-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Johnson to Garrett Johnson showed that UK would not go away easy.

After forcing a few punts from the Cardinals, UK actually took the lead in the game off a 36-yard touchdown run from Boom Williams. That served as a wake-up call for Jackson and the UofL offense, as they rattled off three straight scoring drives, two for touchdowns and one for a field goal to take back the lead. 

The UK offense responded with another quick touchdown drive, as the Johnson-to-Johnson once again beat Louisville going deep for 63 yards. UK’s defense then held strong to close the half and UK went into the locker room in a good position down only 24-21 receiving the ball to start the half.

The scoreboard showed an even matchup at the half, but quick counters from UK led to the first half being dominated by UofL in time of possession (18:20 to 11:58) and total plays (45 to 27).

In the third quarter that changed as UK used a 13:07 to 1:53 time of possession advantage to put up two scores and set up another that was finished off at the start of the third quarter.

UK opened the second half with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was sustained mostly by the big play of Johnson. One the day went for 338 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game and also came up huge on the ground leading UK with 83 rushing yards.

The other score in the quarter was a 35-yard field goal that was nailed by MacGinnis to tie the game at 31-31, but the quarter also ended with UK driving in Louisville territory.

UK scored within the first minute of fourth quarter to take a 38-31 lead. Despite the drive being halted to a certain degree, Johnson once again came up huge finding Dorian Baker in the end zone on 3rd and 9 to get the 35-yards touchdown.

Back-to-back drives that ended in interceptions kept the Cards from scoring, but a poor UK punt put UofL in position to tie up the game taking over at their own 45. Jackson then took advantage leading a five-play, 55-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by the quarterback.

The UofL score tied up the game at 38-38, but UK’s next drive started promising until a Benny Snell fumble derailed it and gave the Cardinals a chance to take the lead in the closing minutes.

Louisville drove the ball down the field to inside the ten-yard line with under two minutes left, but the unthinkable happened as Jackson fumbled the ball on a scramble and UK recovered to give themselves another chance for the lead. 

With 1:45 left in the game, UK drove to the Louisville 29 to set up a 47-yard field goal attempt. MacGinnis came in and nailed his second field goal of the game to give UK the lead with 12 seconds left in the game.

UofL would only get one play off after the kick return, but a last-ditch effort from Jackson would end up being picked off as time expired.

The Governor’s Cup win caps off a 7-5 season for UK, guaranteeing a winning season for the first time since 2009.