BOSTON (AP) — Jawhar Jordan ran for 115 yards, breaking free for two long touchdowns, and Louisville beat erstwhile rival Cincinnati 24-7 on Saturday in the twice-delayed first edition of the Fenway Bowl at the chilly home of the Boston Red Sox.
With a gridiron laid out over the diamond and “Fenway Park” in the end zones using the baseball team’s traditional font, Jordan scored from 49 yards out at the end of the first quarter and 40 at the end of the second to help clinch the Keg of Nails for Louisville (8-5).
Brock Domann hit Marshon Ford for another score on a 40-degree day when both teams struggled to pass — or even hold onto the ball, with the Bearcats (9-4) fumbling three times (recovering one).
But Jordan and Maurice Turner, who ran 31 times for 160 yards, gave Scott Satterfield’s former team a 287-55 edge in rushing yards over his new team.
Evan Prater connected with Wyatt Fischer for the Bearcats’ only score, barely getting off the pass before he was brought down. Ford cut back across the field from the 20 and outraced his defender to the end zone to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.
But the Cardinals shut them out from there, earning bragging rights in the Ohio River rivalry that dates to 1929 but had been dormant since Louisville joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. Louisville players did flips on the field afterward, passing around the Keg of Nails awarded to the rivalry game winner.
Football has been played at Fenway Park since the 1960s, when it was home to the American Football League’s Boston Patriots, and as recently as 2018 when it hosted The Game between Harvard and Yale. It has witnessed everything from Irish hurling and big air skiing to NHL games — a second NHL winter classic is scheduled for next month – not to mention concerts and movie nights and Shakespeare in the park.
But the century-old ballpark finally hosted its first bowl game after the pandemic wiped out the first try in 2020 and again last year, when the matchup between SMU and Virginia was scuttled three days before kickoff by a COVID-19 outbreak involving the Cavaliers.
The coaches for the game were both temps because Satterfield decided this month to switch sides, leaving Louisville for Cincinnati. He said he was staying away from the game and spending his time recruiting.
“It’s certainly an unusual situation that we have going on right now,” he said on the broadcast.
Former Patriots receiver Deion Branch, who won a Super Bowl MVP with New England, led the Cardinals in place of Jeff Brohm, who is coming from Purdue; Kerry Coombs handled the Bearcats’ sideline while they wait for Satterfield to get settled.
“This is kind of my first look at Cincinnati, really,” Satterfield said. “So this is kind interesting to me to watch these guys. … But, yeah, this is obviously a very unusual situation.”
Sod was laid out over the dirt basepaths and the warning track beyond the east end zone, in front of the baseball bullpens. Because of the lack of space on the quirky and angular field, both teams shared the same sideline.
The manual scoreboard on Green Monster was repainted to record quarters instead of innings, with “CINCY” and “L’VILLE” in the spots usually reserved for baseball teams. The balls and strikes were converted to down and distance.
One goalpost was mounted near the third-base fungo circle. The other was in right field, just about at the spot where David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam in the 2013 AL Championship Series sent Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter crashing over the bullpen wall and propelled the Red Sox into the World Series.
The Cincinnati bearcat mascot and Louie, the Louisville cardinal, hung out with Wally and Tessie, the Red Sox Green Monsters. The fans sang “Sweet Caroline” between the third and fourth quarters.
The school bands tried to make up for a sparse crowd – more like Red Sox-Royals in July than a Yankees game in the thick of a pennant race. The center field bleachers and left field grandstand were completely empty, with fans mostly clustered behind the dugouts and low in the right field bleachers; the red seat that marks Ted Williams’ longest home run stood out among the empty green rows.
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