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Levis runs for 4 TDs, Kentucky routs rival Louisville 52-21

AP Photo Timothy D.Easley

Will Levis rushed for career highs of four touchdowns and 113 yards, and Kentucky scored on its first four possessions to cruise past rival Louisville 52-21 and win the Governor’s Cup for the third consecutive time. Big contributions by his feet and arm helped the Wildcats’ junior quarterback outgain Louisville by himself (195-144) by halftime. Levis rushed for TDs of 29 and 7 yards on their first two possessions, then followed Matt Ruffolo’s 43-yard field goal with a 5-yard score and 1-yard TD. The Wildcats earned their fourth rivalry win in five meetings.

Levis was also 14 of 18 through the air for 149 yards in the game.

Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed 16 times for 121 yards and a score, leading a rushing attack that racked up 362 yards on 49 carries in the game. Altogether, Kentucky had 511 yards of offense in the game.

Wan'Dale Robinson caught nine passes for 97 yards, setting the UK single-season mark for receptions in a season along the way.

Kentucky took the opening kickoff and went immediately into attack mode. Levis connected with Robinson for 29 yards on the first play to get into Louisville territory. The Cats would make another first down before facing a third and three from the U of L 29. From there, Levis took off on a designed quarterback run and went virtually untouched into the end zone for the touchdown. Matt Ruffolo added the PAT at the Cats led 7-0 with 12:22 left in the first quarter.

Louisville took possession at their own 25 and the Cards would use 10 plays to cover the 75 yards, with 49 yards coming through the air and 26 on the ground. The scoring play was a two-yard touchdown rush by quarterback Malik Cunningham. James Turner added the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with 7:30 remaining in the first.

Kentucky would answer with another scoring drive before the end of the quarter. The Cats would march 75 yards in 12 plays, using seven rushes and five passes. At the end of the drive, it was Levis rushing for the score again, this time from seven yards out, giving UK the lead again. Ruffolo added the PAT to make it 14-7 with 1:18 left in the first quarter. That would be the score after 15 minutes of play.

On its next drive, Louisville would cross the 50 and get into UK territory. But on fourth and five from the UK 39, Cunningham's pass sailed over the head of Justin Marshall, giving Kentucky the ball on downs.

Kentucky would take advantage of the good field position. The Cats would get into Louisville territory on another connection from Levis to Robinson, this one for 15 yards. UK would eventually get to the U of L 25 yard line before the drive stalled. On fourth down, Ruffolo nailed a 42-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-7 with 8:46 left in the half.

Louisville took possession but it did not last long. The Cards went three-and-out and were forced to punt, giving the ball to the Cats on their own 35 with 7:55 left in the half.

Kentucky would take advantage yet again. The Cats would march 65 yards in 12 plays. And, at the end of the drive was a familiar sight. Levis would scramble and rushed for his third touchdown of the first half, this one from five yards out. Ruffolo added the PAT and the Cats led 24-7 with 1:53 left in the half.

The Cards would get one more possession before the end of the half. U of L would drive into UK territory but, on third and two from the UK 22, Josh Paschal sacked Cunningham, forcing a U of L field goal. But from 49 yards out, Turner missed and the Cats took over with 41 seconds left in the half. Kentucky would take a 24-7 lead into the break.

With the first possession of the second half, Louisville made one first down before being forced to punt. Kentucky would take over at its own 25 with 13:09 left in the half.

As they had done the entire first half, Kentucky efficiently moved the ball down the field. Levis and Robinson connected twice and Rodriguez had a 41-yard rush to get the Cats into scoring position. And, as he had done all night, Levis scored the touchdown, this time on a quarterback sneak from one yard out. Ruffolo added the PAT and the Cats led 31-7 with 9:28 left in the third quarter.

Louisville appeared to be putting together something on its next drive but as the Cards got near midfield, Cunningham was intercepted by JJ Weaver, giving the Cats the ball at their own 41.

Kentucky took that possession and, again, drove down the field. The Cats covered 59 yards in eight plays, this time ending with a Rodriguez touchdown. Ruffolo made another point after and the Cats led 38-7 with 3:11 left in the third quarter. Kentucky would take a 38-7 lead into the final stanza.

The Cats would extend the lead early in the fourth quarter when Kavosiey Smoke rushed for a 13-yard touchdown with 13:33 to play. Ruffolo made yet another PAT and UK led 45-7.

After a Louisville touchdown cut the lead to 45-14, Kentucky scored again on a 41-yard rush from true freshman La'Vell Wright. Ruffolo's PAT made it 52-14 with 3:54 left.

Louisville added a late touchdown inside the game's final minute to provide the final margin.

Kentucky will now await its postseason destination, which should be announced on Dec. 5.

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