Cats stun Cards 41-38 to enhance bowl status

By LARRY VAUGHT

Fortunately I’ve been able to see some terrific Kentucky football wins in my 41 plus years covering UK football.

Go back to that special 1977 season or that win over eventual national champion LSU or even that Music City Bowl win over Clemson. But I am not sure any single game win has ever been better than Saturday’s 41-38 win over Louisville.

Senior running back Jojo Kemp had his arms wrapped around coach Mark Stoops as soon as Austin MacGinnis drilled the 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to give UK the lead to complete the amazing win.

Just a few minutes earlier, Louisville looked set to break the 38-38 tie when quarterback Lamar Jackson — the Heisman Trophy leader going into the game — fumbled deep in UK territory after UK freshman running back Benny Snell had lost the ball to the Cardinals a few plays earlier.

But this is not a Kentucky team that quits. Stoops has finally instilled a “finish” attitude in this team much like former UK coach Rich Brooks put in his Cats when he rebuilt the program.

This ended a five-year losing streak to Louisville. It came against a top 10 team playing at home. It came in a game where UK was at least a 24-point underdog.

The Kentucky offense rolled up 581 yards, including 240 rushing against a team that was allowing just 120 yards per game. Quarterback Stephen Johnson complete 16 of 27 passes for 338 yards and three scores and ran for 83 yards. Garrett Johnson had five catches for 164 yards and two scores. Dorian Baker had a sensational 35-yard scoring catch. Boom Williams ran for 63 yards, Snell 51 and Kemp 32 yards.

Louisville had plenty of offense as well. Jackson was 16 of 25 passing for 281 yards and two scores — but had two interceptions. He ran for 171 yards and two more scores. But he also had that costly fumble that could well cost him the Heisman Trophy.

The Cats had a huge celebration on the field and again in the locker room after this signature win that improved UK’s record to 7-5 and suddenly makes the Cats a much hotter bowl commodity.

My guess is that the Music City Bowl would sell its soul for a chance to have UK and the crowd it would bring to Nashville now.

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  1. I never gave up on Stoops or the football team just so proud of this team. Go Cats!;

    1. You sure did Cats79, you and Norman, Persimmon Knob, and others. Stoops silenced a bunch of critics today, including me. He finally won the big one. Now that is playing some winning football. The best win in the Stoops era, no doubt. He turned the corner with this program today. He is the man to lead this program and proved it today with this win as a three TD underdog against a ranked team and rival on the road. I will gladly admit I was wrong. Go Cats!!

      1. How about those Cats? Yesterday was a beautiful thing to behold. Exceeding expectations is a real thrill. We have a football team LP. A real life, tough as nails, in your face, slobber knocking football team. Life is good.

        GO CATS !!!!!!!÷

        1. Norman I am getting ready to go to Church a happy man. Let me just “fess up” here. Stoops, and his team, made every longtime UK football fan very proud yesterday. I have to admit, I had some wet eyes after that kick sailed through the uprights with only 12 seconds on the clock. I also knew when Kash Daniel made that bone crushing tackle on the opening kick off, this UK football team was ready to play some SEC caliber football. Stoops, IMO, validated his coaching status at Kentucky yesterday. Gran called a great game, the best I have seen out of him, and he opened his offense up, trusting his QB and receivers. UK came to play It was a joy to watch. Johnson is turning into a real good QB. Thank the Lord for Austin McGinnis too. UK is 7-5 and bowl bound. Some of us gave them no chance after the Southern Miss loss. They beat that cocky bunch in Louisville, and IMO UK football is back in business. I always said Stoops could recruit, this should help big time in that department. For all you guys who never waivered on Stoops here on VV’s, you were right all along. He is our coach, and he deserves credit for keeping this team focused in spite of some rough days. GO Cats!!!!

      2. In my above post I meant to say that Cats79, and the others named there, did not ever give up on Stoops. Not sure it came out, above, like I wanted to say it. You boys hung tough. Sorry I doubted Stoops boys. He is moving this program forward, one step at a time. They took a big one yesterday. I repent!!!

        1. I knew what you meant friend. No worries and Semper Fi.

          GO CATS !!!!!!!!

            • Cats79 on November 28, 2016 at 7:28 am

            Same here Larry p . If they get music bowl I’m going down support them in person. Go Cats!!

  2. Wahoo. What a signature win. Proud of this team. I was one of the few that doubted this team would progress further after the 0-2 start. So glad to eat crow.

    1. Andy….we winners do not have to eat crow….We just take our shots where needed and move on. I may not be totally on board yet but have reached the bottom 2 rungs. I am glad for Stoops and Troops….The man has built some Heisman candidates during the year. Maybe next year it will be our turn with Stevie.

  3. What the defense did in forcing turnovers was something no other team had done all season. A Heisman candidate threw three picks and fumbled once.
    Your once a backup qb throws for 3 tds and totals over 400 yds ofl offense. The bowl game just got a bit more impressive and the recruiting picture is brighter.. A good day for UK and its footb8 program.

  4. Stoops for President!!…You know guys I had this feeling just before the game that we were going to pull this game out…Ha! Ha!….Duped by Stoops…not today guys….got to give the man his due….he got his SIGNATURE win for us. I was very impressed with Stoop’s poise at end of game…speaking of poise…how about Stevie Johnson. His decision making, maturity, and accuracy have improved as the season has gone on. Word out of the Courier Journal is that Miles, Briles and Strong still interested in our job, but Barney hasn’t returned any calls yet. You gotta luv it….GO CATS1

  5. I’m not gonna say much glad to hear two guys finally join our ship.Go Cats!!

  6. The Cats proved today that they can play with anyone. No more excuses, go out and beat people. Great Game Cats and Congratulations..

  7. I from a purely objective perspective, I thought this is KY’s first complete game. It was not perfect but no one quit and we hung in and found a way to win. Secondly, I thought Patrino’s post game interview was typical Patrino. He got beat and he can make any excuse he wants but football at this level means if you lose a guy, it’s the next man up and he has to perform. A lot of you might disagree but I am really glad we didn’t get this guy as head Coach.

  8. What a great victory for this team. So happy for everyone. For the seniors who rolled the dice to help build this program. For the underclassmen who sacrificed in order to keep the dream alive. And for a staff that stayed the course and kept that competitive fire burning.
    You guys are something special! This old fan says Thank You from the bottom of his heart.

    GO CATS !!!!!!!!

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