UK Football

Kentucky football’s ice-cold second half results in another UT loss

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Game day: Kentucky vs. Tennessee

Click below for more of’s coverage of Saturday’s Kentucky-Tennessee football game at Kroger Field in Lexington.

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After an ideal start on both sides of the ball, a second-half letdown spoiled Kentucky’s final nighttime kickoff at Kroger Field.

With 1:17 left, Lynn Bowden was stopped on a fourth-and-goal rush from the 2-yard line to essentially cap Tennessee’s 17-13 come-from-behind victory over the Wildcats on Saturday night.

Kentucky’s defense forced a third-and-4 but Jarrett Guarantano rushed for one last first down to complete the rally.

Bowden rushed for 114 yards, his third 100-yard effort in four games, but he was just 4-for-7 for 25 yards as a passer.

Kentucky started things off with with a 17-play possession that took more than 10 minutes off the clock.

The Wildcats converted three times on third down and once on fourth down to complete a 75-yard scoring drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown rush out of the wildcat formation by A.J. Rose, his fourth TD of the season.

UK quickly scored again after forcing a three-and-out. Josh Paschal blocked a UT punt and it was hauled in by Drew Schlegel off the foot of Tennessee’s Paxton Brooks. Kavosiey Smoke rushed 22 yards for a TD on the Cats’ second play from scrimmage on that drive, but Chance Poore’s second PAT try of the night was blocked.

Bowden was stopped a yard short on a third-down run the next trip out. Two third-and-long conversions got Tennessee to UK’s 16 but an unnecessary roughness penalty pushed the Volunteers backward; they settled for a 26-yard field goal from Brent Cimaglia after freshman quarterback Brian Maurer nearly converted on a 3rd-and-20 draw.

A second fourth-down conversion pushed Kentucky to the Volunteers’ 37-yard line but Bowden threw his first interception of the season on the next play. It was returned for a touchdown but replay review showed that Nigel Warrior stepped out at UT’s 45; UK proceeded to force its third three-and-out of the contest.

Tennessee attempted a Hail Mary at the end of the first half that was batted down in the end zone. Players from both teams tried to intimidate one another as time expired; the brief skirmish ended with a UT assistant coach being assessed a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Guarantano took over at quarterback for Tennessee to open the second half and quickly got the Volunteers to the Cats’ 27-yard line. A Vols’ TD was erased due to an ineligible man down field; four plays later Guarantano threw a 17-yard scoring strike to Marquez Callaway to pull Tennessee within 13-10 less than 3 minutes into the second half.

After having another TD wiped off the board by a review (the receiver’s knee was down upon the catch), Tennessee took the lead on a 12-yard connection between Guarantano and Josh Palmer that was not called a TD on the field but, upon further inspection, went the Volunteers’ way.

On its next drive Kentucky, starting from its own 25, rushed eight consecutive plays to Tennessee’s 32 but Bowden was sacked on a fourth-and-6 rush. A sack-and-forced fumble by Calvin Taylor put Tennessee behind the chains on their first play; the Cats completed a three-and-out as the fourth quarter got underway.

A roughing-the-pass penalty pushed Kentucky into Tennessee territory on its next possession but the Cats again couldn’t convert on fourth down. The Volunteers opened the door, though: Ty Chandler fumbled after a hand-off and Cats center Marquan McCall recovered it at UT’s 43.

The Cats got to within Tennessee’s 1-yard line, in part thanks to a penalty, but Chris Rodriguez was stopped for a 1-yard loss before Bowden was halted.

Kash Daniel started for the Wildcats after sitting out against Missouri, the first missed game of his career. He recorded two tackles, both solo efforts.

Next game

Kentucky at Vanderbilt

3:30 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network)

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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.