Justin Burke was hoping for a game to remember in his return to his hometown.
Although the quarterback helped Louisville play Kentucky closer than most expected Saturday, the former Lexington Catholic star nevertheless was on the short end of a 31-27 score at Commonwealth Stadium.
"I'd like to remember it, but it would be a bad memory now," Burke said.
Burke said he savored playing in front of a full-house crowd of 70,988, and that "it would have been a good memory if we had won."
Burke, a graduate student making his second start since transferring from North Carolina State, completed 15 of 28 passes for 245 yards. Included were fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 5 yards to Cameron Graham and 66 yards to Trent Guy. Burke threw one interception and ran eight times for 17 yards.
Burke "was great in run-game audibles. He did a super job of managing the football game," Coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "His communications are great with me. He was seeing things extremely well. He was very accurate with the ball. That 'go' route that he threw to Trent, you can't throw it any better than that."
The Cardinals outgained UK 378 yards to 346.
"We had a lot of good things out there," Burke said. "I firmly believe in this football team, and we will win a lot of games this year. Especially if we play like we played today. I know we didn't come out with a victory, and I don't like moral victories, but we showed a ton of character."
UK turned over the ball three times in the third quarter, but the Cardinals were held to a pair of field goals.
"It's frustrating for me because that's where a quarterback makes his money," Burke said. "I made some mental errors down there that could have been avoided. That's got to be on the quarterback, so I take full responsibility for a lot of that. We just killed ourselves on some of those penalties that we shouldn't have done.
"But the fact that we continued to attack was big. We didn't get disheartened. ... It's a game of resolve, and I think we showed a lot of it."
■ In addition to his 66-yard TD catch, Guy returned five kickoffs for 170 yards. His touchdown catch gave the Cards a 27-24 lead with 7:49 left. A little over two minutes later, though, he muffed a punt. UK recovered, leading to the game-winning touchdown pass from Mike Hartine to Randall Cobb. Kragthorpe was emotional when asked what he said to Guy after the game.
"I told Trent I'm gonna kick his a-- if he feels bad ... because that play didn't lose the game," Kragthorpe said.
"There is not one play that you can point to and say that was the deciding factor. I'm going to tell you (media) right now, if you get on Trent Guy, don't ever come around me. ... I'm going to read everything, going to watch every newspaper, watch every TV station. Everything. Don't say a word about Trent Guy. That guy's a stud, and I've got his back."
■ Even though he considers UK cornerback Trevard Lindley a future NFL first-round draft pick, Kragthorpe said, "we weren't scared of that guy. We were going after his a--. ... And Scottie (Long) did it. Guys did it all day long. So we weren't intimidated by anybody out on that field today."
■ Senior fullback Joe Tronzo said the Cards talked all week about a tough game.
And then, "we saw Muhammad Ali in the tunnel, and we knew it was going to be a 15-round, knockout, drag-out fight. We knew it was going to come down to the end. Unfortunately, things just didn't go our way. I've got to give it to UK — they did what they had to do to win the game. We didn't."
■ Sophomore Victor Anderson ran 19 times for 110 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown. The Big East Rookie of the Year last season, Anderson has touchdowns in eight of 14 career games, along with six 100-yard rushing efforts.