UK Football

Little things make big difference as Kentucky falls to Auburn

Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis intercepts a pass intended for Kentucky wide receiver Dorian Baker in the second quarter. The University of Kentucky hosted Auburn University, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer
Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis intercepts a pass intended for Kentucky wide receiver Dorian Baker in the second quarter. The University of Kentucky hosted Auburn University, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer Herald-Leader

In big, big games it is often about the little things.

A sliver of an elbow on the ground before a fumble.

Or a bobbled pass (or three) for a big third down.

All of those little things mattered and helped Auburn get a big 30-27 win Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

Trailing by as many as 13 points, Kentucky had a huge third quarter to pull within three points late, but Auburn found its answer, turning what at one point was a called fumble into a Peyton Barber touchdown.

The Cats cut it to three again, 30-27, with four minutes to play on Mikel Horton's 1-yard run set up by Auburn penalties and a 27-yard ballet-style catch from Jeff Badet.

But it wasn't enough. It was fourth-and-3, and Kentucky found itself at the Auburn 44-yard line. Patrick Towles was sacked trying to find an open receiver on the final play.

It dashed the hopes of another Cats comeback in front of a season-high 63,407 at Commonwealth Stadium.

Barber had two touchdowns and 92 yards on 26 carries to lead the Tigers, who were outgained 497-407 for the night.

In his first game back from dealing with undisclosed personal issues, Boom Williams bested Barber with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, but it wasn't enough.

Towles completed 27 of 44 attempts for 359 yards and hand an interception in the end zone, part of a mediocre first half for Kentucky (4-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference).

The first half was one of wasted opportunities for UK's offense, which got hot on its first drive, riding Williams' 68 yards in a 75-yard drive to even the score 7-7.

But the sophomore got only one more attempt in the first half after that drive.

On Kentucky's third possession, the Cats marched 85 yards in 10 plays, including several pass plays of 20-plus yards to get to the Auburn 8-yard line before Towles threw a pass behind his receiver and right into the arms of Carlton Davis in the end zone.

That miscue set up the first of three straight field goals for Daniel Carlson to give Auburn (3-2, 1-2) a 23-10 advantage at the half. Carlson's final field goal before the break was a 52-yarder as time expired.

The Tigers, who ran 48 plays in the first half, connected on eight of their 11 third-down attempts, including the first six of the game. They were 4-for-4 on the opening drive that helped set up a 1-yard run for Barber.

The dismissal of leading wide receiver Duke Williams didn't seem to hurt Auburn much in the first half with Louis Ricardo — the Tigers' only receiver left with double-digit catches this season — had five for 114 yards in the first half. He finished the night with seven grabs for 154 yards.

At the half, Auburn had outgained the Cats 297-240, but UK turned the tables in the third quarter with 158 yards compared to 13 for the Tigers, who went 0-for-3 on third downs.

Garrett Johnson led UK's receivers with nine catches for 160 yards. Dorian Baker added six for 66 yards, and Badet five grabs for 67 yards.

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