By Aaron Williams–
University of Louisville junior quarterback Will Stein left the field at Commonwealth Stadium in the second quarter injured but did not take the Cards’ offense with him. True freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater stepped into the pocket to fill the cleats of the University of Louisville’s starting quarterback and did so beautifully, throwing the first two touchdown passes of his collegiate career against University of Kentucky rival.
“We always talk about changing the culture around here, and I feel like this is a big step towards that,” said Bridgewater in an interview following the game. “It just meant a lot. We’re changing the culture, we’re preparing for the future, but the future is right now.”
Bridgewater, who had 10 completions on 18 attempts for 106 yards, echoes the sentiments of Louisville head coach Charlie Strong who called for a “change in the culture” of Louisville football following the Governor’s Cup victory Saturday night.
“We’ve been down for three years, last year we had our year, we bounced back, but we needed a statement game to change the culture
and we have to change it within our university also,” said Strong. “You see students on our campus that walk around with UK shirts and I always say to them if you’re going to walk around with UK stuff on, you must not have gotten accepted to UK but you are here at the University of Louisville so let’s support our school.”
It was certainly a statement game for Teddy Bridgewater who found senior wide receiver Josh Bellamy on a 25-yard completion to give the Cardinals a 24-10 lead with 11:15 to play in the game. The Kentucky Wildcats would rally back with a 15 play, 77-yard drive ending in a two-yard touchdown pass to junior Wildcat receiver E.J. Fields from UK junior quarterback Morgan Newton to make the score 24-17.
Much of the credit for the Cardinals’ victory must go to the Louisville defensive line, which held the Wildcats to only 19 rushing yards for the game. The Cards broke through nearly every possession, recording six sacks on Newton including one by sophomore defensive end BJ Butler on the Wildcats last drive of the game. With Kentucky on their own 18 yard line, Louisville’s defense held firm to force an incomplete pass from Newton to junior wide receiver La’Rod King that sailed out of bounds along with UK’s chance at tying.
“They did a good job driving down the field and making it a game again, but all we had to do was to just regroup and regain our composure and our poise to make a big stop on fourth down and solidify the game,” said senior linebacker Dexter Heyman of the Cards defensive stop late in the fourth quarter. Stein returned to the field with 0:46 seconds to play in the fourth quarter to take a knee for the Cardinals and give them the victory as time expired. His only other action of the night consisted of a 38-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Andrell Smith in the first quarter to put Louisville up 7-3.
Bridgewater would add to the lead when he took over in the second, linking up with fellow freshman wide receiver DeVante Parker on a 25-yard completion for a touchdown. It marked the third time in as many games that Parker has gotten a touchdown and put Louisville ahead, 14-3 over Cats.
Kentucky would score on a 15- yard touchdown pass from Newton to King late in the first half to make the score 14-10 following their first quarter field goal by junior kicker Craig McIntosh. Dexter Heyman summarized his feelings on bringing the Governor’s Cup back to Louisville in an interview after the game.
“It was great, easily one of the greatest moments of my college career, definitely one of the most defining moments of my college career, to come out here with the guys that we have and a young football team really bodes well for the future of our program and the now of our program.”The Cardinals return to action against Marshall University on Oct. 1. Until then the speculation will swirl on who will get the starting quarterback job: a healthy Will Stein or the newly arrived Teddy Bridgewater.
Photo: Michael Baldwin/The Louisville Cardinal