CINCINNATI – Teddy Bridgewater made several great escapes to help No. 19 Louisville get to overtime, and Dominique Brown’s 2-yard run gave the Cardinals a 31-24 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night.
The comeback clinched the first American Athletic Conference title for Central Florida, which had a one-game lead over Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2) heading into the final weekend.
For the second year in a row, the Ohio River rivals went to overtime to decide who gets the Keg of Nails, this time for the foreseeable future with Louisville (11-7, 7-1) leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
The Cardinals won 34-31 in overtime in the rain in Louisville last season. This one went to overtime on a wet, raw night when Cincinnati’s Tony Miliano kicked a 26-yard field goal with 7 seconds left.
An interference penalty in the end zone set up Brown’s 2-yard run to open overtime.
The Bearcats wound up with a fourth-and-14 at the 29, and Brendon Kay’s pass went off the hands of Anthony McClung at the 6, ending Cincinnati’s first overtime game at Nippert Stadium since 2003.
Bridgewater was 23 of 37 for 255 yards with three touchdowns, two of them in the fourth quarter. He eluded three tacklers on a 14-yard run on a third-and-12 play to keep one touchdown drive going, and finished it by scrambling away from defenders and throwing an off-balance pass for a 22-yard score.
He and Kay kept topping each other in the fourth quarter, but Cincinnati’s sixth-year senior didn’t have one more big play left in him. He was 22 of 40 for 304 yards with two interceptions and two touchdown scrambles, one of which left him woozy.