LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Cincinnati held Louisville to 28 yards in the second half, got two touchdowns from DeMarco McCleskey and regained the Keg of Nails for the first time in five years with a 24-14 Conference USA victory.
The Keg is presented annually to the winner of this regional battle, signifying the team that is "tough as nails." There was no mistaking that team after halftime, when Cincinnati (4-5, 3-2 C-USA) kept Louisville from getting untracked.
McCleskey carried 26 times for 82 yards and scored on a pair of one-yard runs in the second half. His first score forged a 14-14 tie with 3:24 to go in the third quarter and his second put the Bearcats ahead for good 1:45 into the final period.
Jonathan Ruffin capped the scoring with a 29-yard field goal as Cincinnati snapped a four-game losing streak in a series that dates to 1929.
Cincinnati's Gino Guidugli struggled in the first half but ended up completing 9-of-23 passes for 120 yards. He has gone 15 quarters without throwing a touchdown pass, although the Bearcats have won two in a row following a three-game losing streak.
Dave Ragone struggled all night for the Cardinals, going 11-for-31 for 91 yards with four sacks.
Louisville's Henry Miller scored the only touchdown of the first half, but defensive end Antwan Peek returned a fumble 15 yards for the tying score 4 1/2 minutes into the third quarter.
The Cardinals (5-4, 3-2) regained the lead immediately as freshman Broderick Clark returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a TD.