Kentucky apparently spent every waking minute the past two weeks studying the tendencies of University of Louisville quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, knowing what he was going to do before he did. The UofL freshman was out of sorts, running for his life on every possession.
Bonnafon still holding the ball too long, getting sacked twice for losses of eight and nine yards. Completng only one pass out of five attempts, delivering an interception leading to UK’s first field goal. The situation was dire when he was injured on the second play of the second quarter, UofL trailing 13-0 at the time. Or maybe not.
Fortunately, the UK coaching staff repeated the mistake of the previous staff of overlooking Kyle Bolin, a redshirt freshman from Lexington Catholic who was never offered a scholarship. Third-string quarterback at UofL, little experience, injury plagued, why bother. Not too surprising since he was largely an unknown quantity to his own coaches.
Everybody knows who Bolin is now after leading Louisville to a 44-40 win over UK before a crowd of 55,118 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Bolin wasn’t having any part of a blowout, immediately completing a 10-yard pass to Eli Rogers for a first down. On the next play, he would hook up with DeVante Parker on a 45-yard touchdown.
A little rusty at times, Bolin had come to play, completing 21 of 31 passes for 381 yards, including three touchdown passes. But he would also give Kentucky hope for ending a three-game losing streak in the series, personally giving Kentucky two touchdowns on a fumble and an interception. He would set up the winning touchdown on a 26-yard pass play to Parker, with Brandon Radcliff scoring the next play on a four-yard run.
The Wildcat coaches also had UofL’s running game figured out. Michael Dyer would be limited to 15 yards and he would cough up the ball on his last possession in the game. Radcliff scored two touchdowns, but he would be held to 67 yards on 21 carries.
How appropriate was it that Gerod Holliman would intercept Patrick Towles’ final pass, assuring UofL of the win over its bitter rival and tying the NCAA record 14 interceptions for a season. A touchdown after that 65-yard return would have been even nicer.
Parker would be voted the Howard Schnellenberger Player of the Game with his three touchdown receptions. For the game, he would be credited with six receptions for 180 yards. One has to wonder what the season could have been had he not missed the first six games, such an exceptional receiver, always wanting more yards after the catch.
But to take advantage of Parker’s abilities, UofL needs a quarterback who can find him. Kyle Bolin had no problem getting the ball to the man who can make things happen. UK had no answer for him.