LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Kentucky chased Dave Ragone right out of the Heisman Trophy picture.
Ragone spent most of the game on the run and was largely ineffective as No. 18 Louisville suffered a stunning 22-17 loss to intrastate rival Kentucky in the season opener for both schools.
The 6-4, 250-pound Ragone was considered a dark horse for the Heisman. The school had bobble-head dolls made and the senior had two opportunities to raise his stock in nationally televised home games against Kentucky and Florida State. A sellout crowd of 42,660 - a record for Papa John's Cardinal Stadium - was on hand.
The Wildcats ranked 109th in total defense last year and figured to be easy pickings for Ragone, who threw for 3,056 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. But they kept pressure on him the entire game and never let him get comfortable.
"They saw the tape of our last regular-season game against TCU (last season) and you knew they were going to bring everybody. It was expected," Ragone said. "It was to our advantage. We always want 1-on-1 coverage on our receivers. We just didn't make enough big plays."
Ragone completed just 14-of-39 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked three times, fumbled once and threw a costly interception with just over three minutes to play.
Working behind an inexperienced offensive line, the quarterback also was Louisville's leading rusher as he frequently found himself running for his life. He had 47 yards on 13 carries, most of them on scrambles after his protection broke down.
"We've got so many new starters on offense," Ragone said. "It's not rocket science. We've got four new offensive linemen."
"We have eight different guys and we're still trying to find the five best," Louisville coach John L. Smith added. "We struggled. They brought a lot of things at us and we just didn't pick much up. If you can't block anybody, it's tough to win. It's pretty simple: You have to block somebody."
Jared Lorenzen, Ragone's 290-pound counterpart, was 13-of-27 for 195 yards and a touchdown. More important, Kentucky did not commit a turnover as it improved to 10-5 in the Governor's Cup.
"We felt our strength was our defensive line and we needed to capitalize on their weakness, the offensive line," Kentucky coach Guy Morriss said. "We put good pressure on Ragone."
The Wildcats set an early tone by getting after Ragone on defense and mixing it up on offense. Playing under control, Lorenzen hooked up with Ernest Simms on a 64-yard touchdown pass and directed a short drive that led to Taylor Begley's 41-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.
With 6:01 left in the second period, Ragone scrambled, was hit by safety Claude Sagaille and fumbled. Williams recovered at the 18, and five plays later Artose Pinner went eight yards for a touchdown and a 16-0 lead.
"They beat him to a pulp and he hung in there," Smith said.
Ragone bounced back to direct a 14-play, 80-yard drive that beat the clock and was capped by his two-yard TD toss to Ronnie Ghent 18 seconds before the gun.
The Cardinals carried the momentum into the second half, and Broderic Clark took the kickoff 100 yards for a score, cutting the deficit to 16-14 and stirring the crowd. It was Louisville's first 100-yard return since 1968.
Less than 10 minutes later, Ragone led a 12-play, 84-yard drive that resulted in Nate Smith's 24-yard field goal, giving Louisville its lone lead. But after the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzen led Kentucky on a 45-yard march that set up Begley's 32-yard field goal with 1:02 left in the third quarter.
"I was waiting to see how we were going to react (to the return)," Morriss said. "I think we did pretty good."
The Wildcats kept after Ragone, and Begley added a 31-yard kick with 4:09 to play. On Louisville's next possession, Ragone's rollout pass was deflected and intercepted by safety Mike Williams with 3:09 to play.
Pinner had 87 yards on 28 carries and 36 on three catches for the Wildcats, who committed 12 penalties.
Damien Dorsey caught three passes for 91 yards for the Cardinals, who were whistled for 11 penalties.