Downed again: Cats lose key game, Cards lose key player

LOUISVILLE — University of Louisville senior running back Michael Bush needed three plays Sunday night to knock out the UK football team.

He only needed one play to end his senior football season.

Bush broke the fibula and tibia in his right leg with 11:26 to go in the third quarter after a tackle by UK junior linebacker Wesley Woodyard. He had already run for 128 yards and three touchdowns in the No. 13 Cardinals’ 59-28 win in front of 42,597 fans at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Bush led the Cards’ backfield attack that accumulated 363 rushing yards and six touchdowns. George Stripling added 90 yards while Kolby Smith chipped in 66.

“They just crushed us with their running game,” UK head coach Rich Brooks said. “We played way too soft on defense, particularly on the perimeter.”

UK on the other hand could not generate much offense on the ground. The Cats ran for just 22 yards on 19 carries. They were forced to abandon the running game almost entirely after U of L jumped out to a 31-0 lead toward the end of the first half.

Junior wide receiver Keenan Burton ended the shutout, turning a short screen pass from quarterback Andre’ Woodson into a 73-yard touchdown with 3:03 left in the second quarter.

After a U of L turnover, Woodson and Burton hooked up again. The duo connected deep along the right side for 42 yards after two straight pass interference calls against the Cards. Woodson threw a four-yard touchdown strike on the next play to Dicky Lyons Jr. to move the Cats to within 17 just before the half.

The Cats’ short rally came too late after U of L decked them with a first half flurry of touchdowns.

Bush had started the scoring with a 48-yard scamper on the game’s third play from scrimmage. On U of L’s third possession, Bush scored again from four yards out. After a one-yard touchdown pass from U of L quarterback Brian Brohm to fullback Brock Bolen, Bush picked up the hat trick on a five-yard push, boosting the Cards’ lead to 28-0.

In Sunday’s game, five Cardinals — Bush, Stripling, Smith, running back Anthony Allen and wide receiver Harry Douglas — each tallied up more rushing yards than the UK backfield.

“We didn’t get our backs loose at all,” Brooks said. “We’ve got to get a running game going. We just can’t drop back and fling it all the time.”

Woodson finished the night 9-for-24, throwing for 231 yards. Woodson bounced back after missing on his first seven passing attempts to throw three touchdowns.

“I think Andre started a little slow,” Brooks said. “He had some heat on him early. He missed a couple of throws I thought he would make, and then when he made a few plays he started to settle down. I thought he did some very, very good things.”

Burton added to his all-purpose yardage sum in the fourth quarter, when he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Burton amassed 312 total yards for the game.

The Cards have won four consecutive games in the series, and seven of the last eight.

Brooks said he didn’t think that this was a step backward for his team but that “it’s not a step forward.”

“We obviously did not play, in my opinion, to our capability,” he said. “You have to give Louisville some credit and then, I guess as you will, you can give me some blame for that.

“We are a better football team then we demonstrated tonight. I thought we showed flashes of it at times, but flashes don’t count. You play football for 60 minutes.”