Sidelines with John Clay

Liveblog: Kentucky 35, Central Michigan 20

Kentucky’s AJ Rose ran for a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter against Central Michigan.
Kentucky’s AJ Rose ran for a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter against Central Michigan. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Mark Stoops’ sixth season as Kentucky’s football coach officially begins Saturday as the Wildcats play host to Central Michigan at Kroger Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ESPNU has the television coverage.

We are no longer using the CoverItLive format for liveblogs. Instead, this post will provide updates, notes, etc., on the game. Be sure also to check out Twitter feeds for Jennifer Smith, Mark Story, Ben Roberts and myself. Check out the Herald-Leader’s sports Twitter feed, as well.

We will have Mark Stoops’ post-game press conference on the Kentucky.com Facebook page.

Despite turning the ball over four times, Kentucky led 21-20 at halftime.

Final: Kentucky 35, Central Michigan 20

Check back for plenty of post-game coverage.

Nice drive goes for naught

Kentucky drove 49 yards in 12 plays but could not convert on fourth down, turning the ball back over to Central Michigan with 6;34 remaining. A.J. Rose and Benny Snell each have 104 yards rushing. Rose has carried the ball eight times. Snell has carried the ball 15 times. First time UK has had two 100-yard rushers in a game since the win at Missouri in 2016when Snell and Boom Williams each topped 100.

Second “wildcat” TD puts UK up 35-20

First play of the fourth quarter, A.J. Rose took the direct snap and scored on a four-yard run. That completed a 58-yard drive and the Cats now have 15-point lead. Rose now has 104 yards on eight carries, his first career 100-yard game.

End of third quarter: Kentucky 28, Central Michigan 20

UK is threatening with ball inside the CMU five-yard line as the quarter end.s. Central Michigan had two players ejected on targeting calls during the quarter. Actually, both were during that final drive of the quarter.

Three players have been thrown out of the game for targeting.

Click here for stats through three quarters.

Central Michigan can’t block Josh Allen

UK’s outside linebacker has nine tackles, six of them solo tackles, with three tackles for loss and one sack. That’s a good start for the senior from New Jersey who is being listed as a potential first-round draft choice by NFL scouts.

UK avoids fifth turnover and extends lead

David Bouvier fumbled on a punt return, but a UK teammate was able to recover. Back came quarterback Terry Wilson, who went straight to the deep ball. That drew a pass interference penalty on Central Michigan. UK ended up scoring with Benny Snell taking a direct snap (wildcat) 11 yards for the TD. Cats 28, Central Michigan 20 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

Punt, punt, punt, punt

Central Michigan two possessions in third quarter. Two punts. Kentucky two possessions in third quarter. Two punts. UK still leads 21-20 with 6:44 left in third quarter.

Terry Wilson has a bruised shoulder

That’s the report from UK sideline. He is available to return. But will he?

Gunnar Hoak starts second half

No updates, at least in the press box, on Terry Wilson’s injury, but Hoak starts second half for UK. Central Michigan went six plays and punt. The host Cats followed with a quick three-and-out. Mark Stoops’ club is clinging to a one-point lead with 10:52 left in the third quarter.

First half thoughts

Kentucky started out flat and ended up turning the ball over four times in the first half, yet the Cats lead by a point heading into halftime. Backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak replaced injured starter Terry Wilson, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the first half, and engineered a 71-yard scoring drive to put the Cats ahead. Hoak hit David Bouvier in stride for the 24-yard score. Quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw made it a point to say that UK could win with both quarterbacks after Wilson was named the starter. Depending on Wilson’s injury (arm?) we could see more from Hoak in the second half.

Kentucky did outgain the Chips 246-158 in the first half. The turnovers were killers, however, leading to all 20 of CMU’s points. Benny Snell has gained 77 yards on nine carries, in large part to a 52-yard touchdown run. A.J. Rose scored a 55-yard touchdown on his only carry. Before his injury, Wilson was six-of-11 passing for 77 yards with the two interceptions. Oak is three-of-five for 48 yards. And Bouvier, a former walk-on, has three catches for 48 yards and one score.

Halftime: Kentucky 21, Central Michigan 20

After the UK defense held Central Michigan to a 22-yard field goal, Gunnar Hoak replaced the injured Terry Wilson at quarterback and promptly moved the Cats down the field for the go-ahead score. The drive covered 71 yards in 41 seconds with Hoak hitting David Bouvier for the 24-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left in the half. Hoak was three-of-five passing on the drive.

Click here for the first half stats.

Terry Wilson turns the ball over again

The sophomore quarterback throws his second interception of the game. He’s also injured on the play. He left fhe field holding his arm and returned to locker room. UK has turned the ball over four times in the first half.

Benny Snell burst cuts CMU lead to 17-14

UK’s junior running burst up the middle, breaking tackles, for a 52-yard touchdown run and the Cats have cut Central Michigan’s lead to 17-14 with 4:00 left in the first half. Snell now has 77 yards on nine carries. UK’s two scoring plays have come on a 55-yard run by A.J. Rose and a 52-yard run by Snell.

And just like that it’s 17-7 Central Michigan

UK’s first play from scrimmage after the Central Michigan touchdown, Lynn Bowden fumbles while trying to advance the ball on a bubble screen. CMU’s Devonni Reid catches the ball in mid-air and goes 20 yards for a Chippewas’ score. It’s now 17-7 with 5:33 left in the first. Kentucky has committed three turnovers.

Central Michigan capitalizes on penalty for 10-7 lead

Thanks to Westry’s penalty, the Chips were able to continue what turned out to be a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive with Kumehnnu Gwilley scoring from four yards out to put the visitors ahead 10-7w ith 5:51 left in the first half. CMU quarterback Tony Poljan, who stands 6-foot-7, has given the Knetucky defense problems with strong runs. Poljan has 38 yards rushing on eight carries.

UK’s Chris Westry ejected for targeting

UK senior defensive back Chris Westry is ejected with 6:50 left in the first half for targeting. The play, in which Westry hit a CMU receiver, also kept the Chippewas’ drive alive. UK leads 7-3 but the Chips now have a first-and-goal at the UK 4 with 5:51 left in the half.

Kentucky turns it over for the second time

Central Michigan’s Xavier Crawford makes an excellent end zone interception of a rushed Wilson throw early in second quarter. That is UK’s second turnover of the game. Wilson has fumbled the ball away and thrown a pick. The Cats did recover a Benny Snell fumble or the turnover number would be three. UK still leads 7-3 with 12:54 left in the first half.

End of first quarter; Kentucky 7, Central Michigan 3

Click here for first quarter stats.

Kentucky takes 7-3 lead on A.J. Rose touchdown

Remember how UK’s explosive plays from 2016 all but disappeared in 2017? The Cats said during training camp they needed to get back to long runs and passes. Bingo. Sophomore running back A.J. Rose goes 55 yards down the left sideline to put the home team in front 7-3. If you remember, Rose was the star of UK’s spring game. There’s 1:20 left in the first quarter.

Central Michigan takes 3-0 lead

The Chippewas convert the fumble into points. Wide receiver Cam Cole makes a great catch-and-run, grabbing the ball thrown behind him, for a 34-yard gain. UK defense does force a 26-yard field goal by Michael Armstrong for a 3-0 Central Michigan lead with 3:16 left in the first quarter at Kroger Field.

Kentucky fumbles on third possession

UK turned the ball over at own 49-yard line on third possession. Wilson fumbled and Central Michigan recovered.

Slow start for Benny Snell

Through two possessions, Kentucky’s 1,000-yard back each of the past two seasons has carried four times for just 10 yards. A holding penalty deep-sixed UK’s second drive. Central Michigan takes over at the 20 with 8:25 left in first quarter. No score.

Kentucky starts with a three-and-out

The Terry Wilson era as Kentucky quarterback began with a three-and-out. Wilson carried for two yards. Benny Snell gained three yards. Then Wilson’s third down pass to David Bouvier was off target. Central Michigan followed by going three-and-out, as well.

In the meantime, Jen and I discussed what we’re looking for from UK’s opener.

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