Dominique Brown scored from two-yards out to give Louisville a 31-24 win over Cincinnati. The running back out of Cincinnati's Winton Woods High, capped off a hard fought game in the stadium that will be renovated next season.
Brendon Kay's fourth and 14 pass was incomplete bringing a disappointing end to a game in which Kay played through a lot of pain.
"That’s how tough the kid is," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You can’t say enough about Brendon. We were going to throw a fade on that play, he sees an opening and tucks it in and takes a huge lick in the end zone for the touchdown. I’m proud he was my quarterback for the last nine games."
Tuberville couldn't be too disappointed by his team's effort overall.
"You couldn’t have asked for any more out of this team," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You could tell tonight how much we’ve grown up. We got down 10-0, we battled back and took the lead. It showed how this team has matured. Nothing bothers them."
Louisville's coach Charlie Strong felt the same about his team, noting that at times this year, he thought the team was 1-10 rather than 10-1 do to unrealistic expectations placed on them.
"It was great to see this team finish the way they finished. You talk about a team with a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart. There were high expectations this season. I couldn't be more proud of this football team. Just to see us finish the way we did in overtime in the last regular season game. These seniors were 22-3 in the last 25 games. It is just a special group," Strong said.
Teddy Bridgewater, the Louisville quarterback finishing his junior year, willed his team back into the game after Cincinnati grabbed second half momentum.
"I told my mom that I wanted to cry but tears of joy," Bridgewater said. "I'm so proud of this team. We have a lot of heart. I'm excited. Coach tells us all the time to ride the wave. We rode it. Then Cincinnati rode it for a while, but we knew we would ride it again and we did."
Two key plays forced the wave to run in Louisville's direction. Bridgewater made them both to keep his team not only in the game but propel them to the win.
On a fourth and 12 with no receivers open he broke the grasp of a Cincinnati tackler to gain the first down that eventually lead to the score.
"I knew I had to do what I could to get the first down," Bridgewater said.. It's a game of inches. I felt that nothing was open. I fought and fought. I had to keep the drive going."
Two plays later he eluded more pressure by Cincinnati's defense to throw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Damian Copeland.
"As I was scrambling, I saw Copeland breaking open," Bridgewater said. "I knew if I could lay it up there for him he would make a play and he did."
Strong has confidence in his star, yet the play looked improbable as it played out.
"The plays Teddy made in that fourth quarter," Strong said. "I thought he was sacked. Then he
breaks free and gets the ball to Damian Copeland. I thought it was out of the endzone. It was a tough game. That's what is great about this team. We have some good players and we know it. We do what we have to do."
The rivalry is in jeopardy with Louisville switching to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Neither team is happy to see the game for the symbolic "Keg of Nails" end with the conference shift.
"That’s unfortunate. You have to have rivalry games," Tuberville said. "This is one that I think you need to play. But they don’t have the opportunity, nor do we. Maybe in the future. Maybe things will work out for us."
Bridgewater understands the significance.
"It is a great feeling especially knowing this could be the last time these two teams face each other," Bridgewater said.
Louisville improves to 11-1. Cincinnati is now 9-3.