By Annie Moore
Teddy Bridgewater led the Cardinal offense to a victory in an overtime thriller against rival Cincinnati in what looks to be the final Keg of Nails, at least for a while. 23 completions in 37 attempts for 255 yards and three touchdowns don’t even cover the late-game heroics of the team leader.
The Cards struck first early in the first quarter. Sixth-year senior QB for the Bearcats, Brendon Kay was picked off on Cincinnati’s first drive by Charles Gaines. Louisville took over at its own 40-yard line and in just four plays and 1:47, Bridgewater connected with DeVante Parker for the first touchdown of the game to give the Cards the 7-0 lead after the extra point from John Wallace.
In the second quarter, Wallace put three more points on the board for Louisville with a made field goal, before Kay ran it in for Cincinnati to put the score at 10-7 at the half.
The Bearcats struck again in the third quarter, again at the hands of Kay. Kay rushed for a two-yard TD to give UC its first lead of the game.
The fourth quarter saw explosive offense from both sides. The Cards drew first blood in the fourth, when Damien Copeland caught a 22-yard pass from Bridgewater to put the cards back on top. It was this drive that showcased Bridgewater’s heroics most prominently. After single-handedly converting a fourth and 12, Bridgewater under immense pressure threw a perfect pass to Copeland in the corner of the end-zone to give the Cards the advantage.
“I thought he was sacked,” Said Cardinals Head Coach Charlie Strong. “He was moving around in the pocket and I thought the guy pulled him off and then all of the sudden he threw it and I thought it was going out of the back of the end zone, but then (Damian Copeland) makes the catch. It was an unbelievable play by Teddy.”
It looked for a minute like Teddy’s efforts were going to be to no avail, when just 45 seconds letter, Ralph David Abernathy IV rushed for a 15-yard touchdown, putting the Bearcats back on top.
But Bridgewater and his troops weren’t done. Louisville’s offense marched back down the field and 11 plays, 60 yards and 4:44 later, the Cards were back on top 24-21.
The Bearcats had the ball with just over two minutes on the clock. Kay led the offense back down the field but had to put its fate in kicker Tony Miliano, who was just 5-14 on the season. Miliano made the field goal to tie the game at 24-24 at the end of regulation.
UC won the toss to start overtime and elected to be on defense to start. After a drive where Louisville’s offense looked anything but lights out, a pass-interference call in the end-zone on Leviticus Payne for the Bearcats, put Louisville just two yards away from the end-zone. Dominique Brown rushed to put the Cardinals on top 31-24.
The Bearcats could not respond and for the second-consecutive Keg of Nails victory for the Cards in overtime. With Louisville moving to ACC play next year, it is the last installment in this celebrated rivalry.
“I am just excited. I actually told my mom that I wanted to cry,” Bridgewater said. “Tears of joy. I am just proud of this team and we showed that we have heart. We still have a lot to play for. It is not about us, it is about this brand on the front of our jerseys. The guys fought and I am extremely proud of those guys.”
Following the win, Louisville accepted a bid to go to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, FL on December 28.