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So much for a close game.
Despite Las Vegas odds-makers establishing Louisville as a two-point favorite entering the game, the streak of consecutive Governors' Cup rivalry blowouts hit four games with a Kentucky 52-21 win. UK has now won the last three rivalry games by a combined 153-44 score.
"The trophy means a lot," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "We have a place for it for a reason. That’s where we want to go back and put it. It looks good in there."
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis did much of the damage, completing 14 of 18 passes for 149 yards while gaining 113 yards on 14 carries. He tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns in the win.
UK running back Chris Rodriguez tied a school record with his eighth 100-yard rushing performance of the season with 16 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson broke the school record for catches in a season with nine receptions for 97 yards to give him 94 catches on the year.
Kentucky vs. Louisville football: Governor's Cup live scores, updates and highlights
Pregame predictions of an offensive shootout looked prescient when both teams marched down the field with little resistance for touchdowns on their opening drives, but Kentucky was able to take control from there.
Levis's second rushing touchdown on a 7-yard keeper game the Wildcats a 14-7 lead with 1:18 left in the first quarter it would never relinquish.
Emotions spilled over on Louisville's next drive when several members of both teams nearly came to blows on Kentucky's sideline after an altercation between Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham and UK safety Vito Tisdale near Kentucky's bench.
It's getting a little bit chippy. pic.twitter.com/HsM1OZx5eX
— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) November 28, 2021
Kentucky was able to overcome a personal foul penalty against cornerback Quandre Mosely after the altercation to stop Louisville on a fourth-and-5 play from the Kentucky 39-yard line four plays later. UK kicker Matt Ruffolo then gave Kentucky a multiple-score lead with a 43-yard field goal at the 8:43 mark in the second quarter.
After Levis's third rushing touchdown of the first half, Louisville had a chance to pull back into the game as it drove to the edge of the red zone just before halftime, but UK senior defensive end Josh Paschal tackled Cunningham for a 9-yard loss on a third-down option play. Louisville kicker James Turner then missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.
Kentucky wasted no time in building on its momentum after halftime by forcing a Louisville punt then driving 75 yards on seven plays for its fourth touchdown of the game and a 31-7 lead.
"I knew (the quarterback runs) were in the game plan, but we literally called the same play four or five times," Levis said. "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess. It was a good play for us."
Rodriguez and fellow Kentucky running back Kavosiey Smoke scored second-half touchdowns to turn the game into a blowout.
Louisville backup quarterback Evan Conley completed an 8-yard touchdown pass with 8:49 left in the game after Cunningham was taken to the locker room following an awkward landing on a scramble.
UK freshman running back La'Vell Wright scored Kentucky's final touchdown on a 41-yard run with 3:54 left in the game, and Louisville running back Maurice Berkley established the final margin with a 7-yard touchdown run with eight seconds remaining.
Kentucky's defense had come under fire for poor performances in the second half of the season but was able to contain Cunningham for most of the game. The Louisville quarterback finished the night with 145 passing yards, 35 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and one interception.
The Wildcats outgained Louisville 513 yards to 352 yards. Kentucky rushed for 364 yards.
"Go through 12 games, there’s going to be some ups and downs," Stoops said. "You’re not going to play your best. You’ve got to hope to win and get one when you’re not at your peak when you’re not at your best. It’s a tough, grueling, physical schedule when you’re playing in the SEC. It’s a physical game.
"I think you could tell our style and theirs is very different."
Email Jon Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky vs. Louisville football: What to know from blowout UK win