Call it a runaway victory.
There was much talk about the new Kentucky quarterback leading up to the Charlotte game.
But the chatter should’ve been about the Cats’ running backs, who combined for 415 yards and six touchdowns in UK’s 58-10 victory at Commonwealth Stadium.
On a rainy Saturday night that turned into a snow globe game, UK got its first victory since Oct. 3, snapping a five-game losing streak.
Jojo Kemp had three touchdowns on a career-high 165 yards to help lead the UK ground game. Sophomore Boom Williams ran for a career-best 140 yards and two touchdowns.
Even true freshman Sihiem King got in on the act, rushing for 91 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Cats.
We have to win these two or we’re going home again on Christmas break, and no one likes going home and watching your friends on TV in bowl games.
UK QB Drew Barker, before the Charlotte game
Kentucky amassed 415 yards, the fourth most rushing yards in school history, as a part of a 544-yard offensive performance.
It was the first time since 2010 (Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke) that the Cats had two different players run for 100-plus yards.
The victory put Kentucky at five wins on the season and sets up a win-or-go-home for the holiday break game for the Cats.
It was something referenced by new UK starter Drew Barker last week.
“We have to win these two or we’re going home again on Christmas break, and no one likes going home and watching your friends on TV in bowl games,” Barker said before facing the 49ers.
The Cats will take on Louisville, which fell to 6-5 with a 45-34 loss at Pittsburgh, on Saturday at noon. The Cardinals had a four-game win streak snapped.
In his first game as the Kentucky starter, Barker had his share of ups and downs, throwing 16 passes to seven different receivers for 129 yards (all in the first half).
On Barker’s first series as a starter, the Cats went three-and-out, losing 3 yards, But they scored on their next four possessions, first a Kemp 6-yard run, then a 21-yard field goal for Miles Butler.
It was the first career field goal for Butler, a redshirt freshman walk-on from Paducah, who was in for the injured Austin MacGinnis.
MacGinnis, who has been battling a groin strain for much of the season, likely will be able to play against Louisville next week, UK officials said.
After another Kemp touchdown, this one for 18 yards midway through the second quarter, Butler hit a 46-yard field goal to make it 20-3 at the half.
Kentucky’s defense built off a strong performance at Vanderbilt, holding Charlotte to 233 total yards, with the 49ers’ lone touchdown coming with five minutes to play.
Highlights included Mike Edwards’ 20-yard interception return for a touchdown, the first pick of his career. Defensive tackle C.J. Johnson had a pick of his own.
Fellow senior Farrington Huguenin recorded his first career sack and then got part of another in the victory.
First quarter: UK—Kemp 6 run (Butler kick), 8:14. UK—FG Butler 21, :15. Second quarter: CHAR—FG Brewer 23, 13:04. UK—Kemp 18 run (Butler kick), 7:53. UK—FG Butler 46, 2:46. Third quarter: UK—S.Williams 20 run (Butler kick), 13:05. UK—S.Williams 53 run (Butler kick), 6:17. UK—FG Butler 32, 2:39. Fourth quarter: UK—Kemp 47 run (Butler kick), 14:20. UK—Edwards 20 interception return (Butler kick), 13:08. UK—King 62 run (Butler kick), 10:22. CHAR—Bumgarner 3 pass from Barden (Brewer kick), 4:54.
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Charlotte, Buie 23-76, Barden 10-47, Nesmith Jr. 3-22, M.Johnson 4-9, G.Duncan 4-6, Holt 1-0, Phillips 1-0, Duke 1-(minus 2), Hart 1-(minus 12). Kentucky, Kemp 11-165, S.Williams 16-140, King 5-91, Horton 4-20, Barker 6-2, Team 2-(minus 3).
PASSING—Charlotte, Barden 11-25-2-87. Kentucky, Barker 16-29-0-129.
RECEIVING—Charlotte, Duke 3-(minus 1), Bostick 2-14, Hoffman 1-31, Ford 1-15, Buie 1-14, Kofa 1-9, Bumgarner 1-3, Murphy 1-2. Kentucky, G.Johnson 5-33, Badet 4-39, Bone 2-24, Timmons 2-3, S.Williams 1-22, Horton 1-6, Conrad 1-2.
Louisville at Kentucky
Noon (SEC Network)