BOZICH & CRAWFORD | Halftime thoughts: Louisville 24, Kentucky 2 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH & CRAWFORD | Halftime thoughts: Louisville 24, Kentucky 21

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The last team to beat the University of Kentucky by 28 points was the team that every seasoned college football observer believes will win the 2016 national championship — Alabama.

When the Governor’s Cup game kicked off Saturday afternoon at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville was favored to dispatch Kentucky by 28 points.

If the Cardinals are going to win by four touchdowns they’ll need to sizzle through the second half because at halftime Louisville rallied from a 14-7 hole to lead the Wildcats, but only by three — 24-21.

Guess which player was in the middle of it? 

U of L quarterback Lamar Jackson. He ran for one touchdown and passed for two more. Start spreading the news: Jackson is responsible for 50 touchdowns this season — 20 rushing and 30 passing.

Guess which player was not conceding anything to Jackson?

UK quarterback Stephen Johnson, who punished the Louisville secondary with touchdown passes of 75 and 63 yards.

Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich of the WDRB Sports Staff shared their thoughts on the first 30 minutes.

CRAWFORD: It was a half of missed opportunities for Kentucky, with several costly dropped passes in what has otherwise been a brilliant game by QB Stephen Johnson. He has completed 5 of 10 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. And he has picked his spots in the run game. His lone interception came on a tipped ball on what could easily have been a pass interference call against Louisville's Dee Smith.

But Louisville missed a couple of TD chances of its own, and bogged down in the first quarter after a breathtaking opening drive and a lightning-quick Kentucky answer.

The Cards had to settle for a field goal when failing on third-and-goal from the 2, then had James Quick drop a TD pass on the goal line with five seconds to play in the half.

If you're Kentucky, you need to come out throwing deep more often. Their first play of the game went for a 75-yard TD pass to Garrett Johnson, and Johnson and Johnson hooked up again for a 63-yarder after Louisville went in front 24-14.

If you're Louisville, you need to forget the deep drops and focus on the running game. The Cards passed themselves out of a 2-minute drive after Jackson was sacked on first down, and his three first-half sacks have been just about all the Louisville offense has done wrong, while playing without top receiver Jamari Staples.

BOZICH: Give the Wildcats credit. They did not attack like a team that was a 28-point underdog. The Wildcats attacked like they expected to win — and as if they had studied the Houston game film.

Johnson did several Lamar Jackson things — running and throwing the football.

As expected, U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham stuffed the line of scrimmage, encouraging Johnson to throw.

Johnson did not require much encouragement. He delivered a 75-yard strike for a touchdown on UK’s first offensive play to Garrett Johnson.

You don’t believe Johnson can throw an accurate deep ball? He did it again with 2:13 left in the first half, finding Johnson again for 63 yards. The 75-yarder was Johnson’s longest completion of the season. The 63-yard pass was his third-longest of 2016.

For Louisville, the offensive line rallied from its shaky performance at Houston eight days earlier. The Cardinals showed an improved running game as well as better pass protection. They also eliminated the turnover issue which had resulted in three lost fumbles in their last two games.

After an ordinary game at Houston, Jackson reminded everybody why the New York Downtown Athletic Club is likely to hand him the Heisman Trophy two weeks from tonight.

Jackson danced 19 yards through the heart of the Kentucky defense for a touchdown the first time he carried the football.

After completing less than 50 percent of his passes against Houston, Jackson was back to throwing strikes against the Wildcats. He finished the first half 11 for 16 for 215 yards. Credit Johnson with another 50 yards on 12 rushes.

The Cards are in solid position to win their 10th game but it’s no lock. Kentucky is scheduled to receive the second half kickoff and Johnson has shown he’s capable of exploiting Louisville’s secondary.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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