UK Football

Defense keeps it close, but UK can't snap its losing streak against Florida

UK's Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Farrington Huguenin (91), top, and Kentucky Wildcats safety Marcus McWilson (15) tackled Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier (7) on a run as the University of Kentucky played the University of Florida at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, September 19, 2015. This is second quarter action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff
UK's Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Farrington Huguenin (91), top, and Kentucky Wildcats safety Marcus McWilson (15) tackled Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier (7) on a run as the University of Kentucky played the University of Florida at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, September 19, 2015. This is second quarter action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

The streak had become a living, breathing thing and Kentucky fans with pitchforks and fire were ready to bring it down.

Some 63,040 brought that fire to Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night hoping to see the end of the nation's longest consecutive win streak.

The Cats had 80 yards between them and the end of that 28-game losing streak to Florida, but that turned out to be a few yards too many as the Gators held on to win 14-9.

Like it had all night, the offense sputtered and stalled, with a Patrick Towles throw ending up in the hands of Florida's Quincy Wilson at the 22-yard line to end all hopes of a second busted streak in as many games.

Towles had been hurried and hustled all night by the Gators defense, which sacked him six times. In two games prior, he'd only been sacked four times.

The Cats' quarterback ended the night 8-for-24 for 126 yards. The UK rushers finished with 115 yards on 41 carries.

The Gators outgained UK 244-241 and were paced by Will Grier, who threw for 125 yards and rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown. Running back Kelvin Taylor added for 45 yards and a score.

Much like the week before, the Cats started in a hole thanks to another Towles interception. This time it was Vernon Hargreaves plucking a tipped ball (courtesy of Dorian Baker) out of the air and returning it to the UK 19-yard line.

The Gators needed five plays to find the end zone first on a Grier 1-yard run.

Kentucky responded with a 14-play, 64-yard drive that ended in an Austin MacGinnis 29-yard field goal with two minutes to go in the opening quarter.

As UK's offense sputtered, its defense shined, with Marcus McWilson tipping a pass in the end zone to force a Florida field goal, which was blocked by C.J. Johnson.

But with no help from its offense in the second quarter, the defense appeared to tire as Florida marched the ball 57 yards down the field in 10 plays to go up 14-3 on a 3-yard run from Kelvin Taylor.

In the second quarter, Florida held onto the ball for 11:38 to just 3:22 for the Cats, who managed just 10 yards and eight plays, including zero passing yards.

Williams was UK's best offense with eight plays for 57 yards while the rest of the offense amassed 19 plays for 43 yards.

After Kentucky's 14-play drive in the first quarter, the Cats managed just 14 plays over the next five drives for 13 total yards.

A timely Harmon pick in the end zone kept the score at 14-3 with six minutes to go in the third quarter and it helped spark UK's offense — that and a 33-yard scramble by Towles on third down — to give Kentucky (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) its first score in more than 32 minutes.

The Cats would've preferred the touchdown, but had six plays inside the 5-yard line that failed. So they settled for another MacGinnis field goal (22 yards) to make it 14-6 with 14:55 to go.

After a forced three-and-out, Kentucky's offense seemed to get going a little bit as Towles found Jeff Badet for a pretty 45-yard pass. That one pass play got more yards than the previous 12 combined (43 yards).

But Florida (3-0, 1-0) found a way to get to Towles again on third down and UK settled for a MacGinnis field goal, this one from 45 yards out to pull the Cats within five points, 14-9, with 11 minutes to go.

UK got more yards on that play (45 yards) than all 12 of its previous passing plays combined (43 yards).

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