UK Football

Kentucky football moves to 2-0 but loses starting quarterback to leg injury

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Game day: Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan

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Kentucky came away with a win, but its season took an undesired turn Saturday night.

Starting quarterback Terry Wilson was carted off the field with 1:19 left in the third quarter of UK’s 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan. Upon his removal, Wilson, who was brought down on a horse-collar tackle, wore a brace on his left leg and was to be further evaluated in the locker room for a knee injury, according to the UK Radio broadcast.

Sawyer Smith entered the game for Wilson and hit Ahmad Wagner for a 54-yard touchdown on his first pass attempt as a Wildcat to open the final period. He threw a second TD to Lynn Bowden inside the final minute.

Smith transferred from Troy during the offseason following the departure of Gunnar Hoak, who backed up Wilson last season. Smith ended 5-for-9 for 76 yards.

Wilson was 14 of 26 for 114 yards without an interception before exiting. He’d rushed for 43 yards and a TD.

Lynn Bowden was a frequent target of Wilson’s early in the game; he directed his first four passes toward the Cats’ top receiver. The former finished with 54 yards on seven catches and rushed twice for 17 yards.

UK to start was much more in tune defensively this week than in its opener. A 5-yard tackle-for-loss by Josh Paschal — the first of five TFLs for the Cats — helped set Bowden up for a return to the 26-yard line on its second possession, which ended with an 8-yard AJ Rose touchdown run to go up 7-0.

Kavosiey Smoke got into the scoring column with a 32-yard run on UK’s next offensive trip, a six-play, 90-yard march down the field ignited by another 32-yard gain on a pass play from Bowden to Wilson. It was the Cats’ third drive of 90-plus yards this season, and gave them a 14-0 lead through one quarter.

Fumbles continued to be an issue in game two after the Wildcats put four balls on the ground against Toledo. Bowden fumbled on UK’s opening drive but it was recovered by Drake Jackson; EMU retrieved the next, a drop by Rose at the goal line, in the second quarter.

Penalties plagued Kentucky through the remainder of the half. Jordan Griffin picked off Glass two plays later and got to EMU’s 11-yard line, but an unsportsmanlike call against Smoke forced them to settle for three points. Glass was intercepted again on the Eagles’ next possession, this time by Kash Daniel, who returned it 18 yards. A 49-yard try by Chance Poore to cap the drive was wide soon after a holding penalty against Logan Stenberg erased a 21-yard TD run by Smoke.

Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (this one against T.J. Carter) allowed EMU to cross midfield for the first time, and an 18-yard completion from Glass to Hassan Beydoun soon put the Eagles in range for a short field goal that capped the drive. Kentucky went 3-and-out for the first time on its final drive of the half before EMU ran out the clock.

Nap time ended in the third quarter: a stalled EMU drive to open the half ended in a punt to UK’s 6-yard line. From there the Cats drove 94 yards to take a 24-3 lead after Wilson hit pay dirt. It was the Cats’ fourth scoring drive of 90-plus yards this season, and lasted nearly 8 minutes.

The Eagles never got closer than 14 points in the second half.

Next game

No. 11 Florida at Kentucky

7 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)

Josh Moore is in his first year covering the University of Kentucky football team and in his fifth year reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he’s been employed since 2009. Moore, a Martin County native, graduated from UK with a B.A. in Integrated Strategic Communication and English in 2013. He’s a huge fan of the NBA, Power Rangers and country music.