GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You can talk heartbreak or you can talk hope.
Let's go with the hope.
After a hot, humid Florida night that perfectly fit The Swamp, Kentucky ended up suffering a heartbreaking loss that still produced a lot of hope.
The Cats needed a couple of breaks to stop a couple of streaks, and the breaks went the other way as Florida won 36-30.
Kentucky didn't get what it needed. The Cats gave a whole lot more than they got in return.
Instead, a possible interception bounced off Fred Tiller and into the hands of a Florida receiver that set up a score for a 13-10 lead.
Even later, inside the final two minutes, a pass bounced off Ryan Timmons to a Florida defender for an interception.
It was Kentucky's 28th straight loss to the Gators, its 18th straight in Gainesville, its 17th straight conference loss.
And yet you couldn't help thinking it wasn't a loss.
The game was tied 20-20 at the end of regulation when UK freshmen Boom Williams caught a pass going right, then reversed field all the way back to the left and outran the speedy Gators for a 27-20 Kentucky lead on the first possession of overtime.
Even when Florida was slow, however, the Gators got the benefit of the doubt. On the home team's possession in overtime, fourth-and-six at the nine, with the play clock ticking down, Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel hit Demarcus Robinson in the back of the end zone to send the game into another overtime.
Television replays appeared to show that the play clock hit zero before the snap. Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops didn't need to see the replay. He came running all the way out to midfield to protest to referee Matt Curles to no avail.
Both teams kicked field goals in the second overtime. Then, under a heavy rush, Kentucky's Austin MacGinnis was short on a 42-yard field goal that opened the door for the Gators. Finally, Will Muschamp's team was able to run through it, Matt Jones scoring from a yard out to make the Gators the victors.
We know, moral victories are for losers. The definition of a close loss is still a loss. A loss is a loss is a loss, especially when you are Kentucky and you haven't beaten Florida since 1986, when you haven't beaten the Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since 1979.
We know that's not true, not entirely. There's something between winning and losing. It's called hope. And the Cats provided plenty of that on this Florida night.
Consider that UK's past three trips to Gainesville, the Cats trailed 24-0 at the half in 2012, 21-7 in 2010 and 42-3 in 2008. On this night, with the two former defensive coordinators turned head coaches going toe-to-toe, the halftime score was 3-3.
In the second half, every time UK took a punch, the young Cats punched back. Patrick Towles threw an interception to start the second half, which led to a Florida field goal and a 6-3 lead. No matter.
Towles hit true freshman receiver Garrett Johnson for a 60-yard touchdown. (Johnson was terrific, by the way.) Kentucky was now on top.
When Florida re-took the lead 13-10. Towles hit Johnson on back-to-back, 30-yard and 33-yard passes, the second for a touchdown, and a 17-13 lead.
And when Florida scored to go ahead 20-17 and then marched right back down the field, with UK's defense surely spent, looking for all the world like the Gators were going to put the game away, the Cats somehow found a way to rise up and force a field-goal attempt, which the Gators missed.
MacGinnis didn't miss when given his chance, hitting a 51-yard field goal with 3:52 left to tie it at 20.
Kentucky did most of this with true freshmen and redshirt freshmen, with a gutty performance by Towles, a tremendous game from Johnson and a brave effort by a defense that held together for most of the night against a Florida offense that ran 94 plays.