Cat Walk: Fans cheer on the team ahead of UK-Florida
Perhaps you’ve heard the word, but the Kentucky Wildcats have lost 31 consecutive football games to the Florida Gators. Saturday night, Mark Stoops’ Cats get their next chance to turn the clock back to zero or else live another year with the streak. We’ll have live updates from The Swamp, starting with the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Final: Kentucky 27, Florida 16
The streak is now 1. Kentucky’s streak over Florida
Florida cuts Kentucky lead to 21-16 with 3:43 left
The Gators converted a fourth-and-seven at the UK 32-yard line. Finally, Franks threw a four-yard TD pass to Swain. But on the two-point conversion, the Gators had a man wide open in end zone. Franks didn’t see him. Pass fell incomplete. UK lead is 21-16 with 3:34 left. That was a 15-play, 99-yard Florida drive. Not over yet.
Florida pass interference penalty on Swain killed the drive.
Florida moving the ball
The Gators are moving down the field at the UK 35-yard line with 6:31 left. Remember, Kentucky had a 27-14 fourth quarter lead on Florida last year nad lost. Of course, Big Blue Nation does not want to remember.
UK fails to take advantage but executes a good punt
Pins Florida at 1-yard line with 8:41 left.
Kentucky defense gets its first turnover
Safety Darius West picks off a Franks pass. UK takes over at the Florida 40 with 11:39 left.
Kentucky has to punt on first possession of fourth quarter
Penalties hurt the Cats on that possession. Florida takes over at own 26 with 12:24 to go. UK up 21-10.
End of third quarter: Kentucky 21, Florida 10
UK comes up with a big stop as Florida’s McPherson misses a 36-yard field goal. Only the replay convinced the Florida crowd the kick was good. It has booed and booed lustily as the quarter ends.
Touchdown Terry hits the big strike
This time Terry Wilson throws a perfect strike of a 54-yard touchdown pass to Lynn Bowden and UK leads the Gators 21-10 with 4:11 left. Wilson has rushed 10 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. He has completed nine of 14 passes for 147 yards and two scores.
Kentucky holding a 14-10 lead with 6:35 left in the third quarter
Florida moved the ball but stalled out thanks to some good defensive line play. Defensive end T.J. Carter knocked down a pass, then pressured the next attempt which helped lead to a Gators punt. UK takes over on its own 22. A scoring drive here by the visitors would really make things interesting.
Terry Wilson gains redemption and Kentucky leads
The UK quarterback directs a 90-yard, 10-play drive. He had a 19-yard run and finally a 24-yard run for a touchdown. UK now leads the Gators 14-10 with 9:49 left in the third quarter. Kentucky has outgained Florida 314-156. Right here, right now, Kentucky looks like the better team for the second straight year. That doesn’t guarantee a win, however.
First half analysis
Kentucky outgained Florida 224-156 in the first half yet trails 10-7. The turnover problems that popped up in the first half against Central Michigan have appeared here again at The Swamp. UK is now -6 on the season in turnover margin. The Cats were driving on both possessions when disaster struck. They had gone 50 yards in seven plays before Terry Wilson’s fumble. Next drive, UK went 58 yards in five plays before Wilson’s interception.
Kentucky turns it over again and Florida leads 10-7 at halftime
Again UK was driving. Again, the Cats turned it over. Benny Snell had ripped off a 44-yard run. Four plays later, from the Florida 22, Wilson’s pass for Tavin Richardson was well short and ended up in the arms of a diving Florida cornerback CJ Henderson. That makes it five turnovers for the Kentucky quarterback on the season. He’s lost two fumbles, one in each game. And he’s now thrown three interceptions — two last week and one in this game.
Terry Wilson turns it over for fourth time
The UK quarterback fumbled on a run inside the Gators’ 35-yard line. That’s his fourth turnover in six quarters. He lost a fumble and threw two interceptions last week against Central Michigan. UK was marching until the turnover. There is 5:15 left in the first half. Florida leads 10-7.
Florida takes a 10-7 lead with 8:27 left in first half
Last year, UK failed to cover two Florida receivers, who each scored a TD. This year, the Cats suffered a blown coverage and Franks hit tight end Moral Stephens for an 18-yard touchdown and a 10-7 Florida lead with 8:27 left in the half.
Kadarius Toney set up the scoring drive. The sophomore, who scored a TD on a wildcat run last year against the Cats, caught a 16-yard pass from Franks, then went for eight yards out of the wildcat to the UK 18.. That came after Freddie Swain set up the drive with a 25-yard punt return.
Phil Hoskins sack makes Florida settle for field goal
The UK defensive tackle sacked Franks for a nine-yard loss on a second-and-one at the UK 3-yard line. On third down, Florida’s Scarlett dropped a pass from Franks and the Gators had to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Evan McPherson with 14:03 left in the half. Kentucky leads 7-3. The Gators have driven the ball on both of their possessions, but the UK defense has taken a bend-but-don’t-break approach.
End of the first quarter: Kentucky 7, Florida 0
After the Kentucky score, Florida came right back with a march right down the field. Gators’ quarterback Feliepe Franks hit a wide open Jordan Scarlett over the middle for a 30-yard gain to the UK 35 on a third-and-four. The Gators were at the UK 3-yard line as the quarter ended.
Here are first quarter stats.
Terry Touchdown strikes first as Kentucky takes 7-0 lead
UK quarterback Terry Wilson ripped off a 31-yard scramble to the Florida 23-yard line, then after a holding penalty, hit David Bouvier on a scramble and throw for a 29-yard TD pass as the visitors go 91 yards on nine plays for a 7-0 lead with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
Florida got the ball first and converted a pair of third downs beofre being stopped at the UK 35-yard line. The Gators then punted.
Florida without two starters on defense, but Toney back
For the second straight game, the host Gators will be without starting defensive end CeCe Jefferson and linebacker David Reese. Jefferson is under suspension for academics. Reese, the team’s leading tackler last season, is out with an injury, says the school.
Wide receiver Kedarius Toney, who hurt UK last year as a freshman, has been re-instated for this game. Toney was suspended for last week’s game against Charleston Southern. Toney scored on a 36-yard run out of the wildcat formation in Florida’s 28-27 win over UK at Kroger Field last season.
Pre-game notes and links
Kentucky: 1-0 overall, 0-0 in the SEC. Mark Stoops started his sixth season as Kentucky coach with a 35-20 win over Central Michigan last week. Turning the ball over four times in the first half, UK trailed 17-7 before staging a comeback.
Florida: 1-0 overall, 0-0 in the SEC. The Gators started the Dan Mullen era with a bang, routing lowly Charleston Southern 53-6 last Saturday at Florida Field. The Gators blocked a pair of kicks, including an extra point that they returned for two points of their own.
Kentucky-Mark Stoops: A former defensive coordinator at Arizona and Florida State, Stoops is 27-36 as the UK coach. Stoops is 15-12, including 8-8 in the SEC over the last two seasons. He is 0-5 against Florida and 1-4 against Dan Mullen during Mullen’s time at Mississippi State.
Florida-Dan Mullen: A former offensive coordinator at Florida under Urban Meyer, Mullen returned to Gainesville as head coach on Nov. 26, 2017 after going 69-46 in nine seasons at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs went to eight bowl games under Mullen, who was lured to UF by former Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, now the AD at Florida.
Kentucky players to watch
Benny Snell: Despite a fever that morning of 102 degrees, the junior running back rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries in UK’s opening-game win over Central Michigan. Snell rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons, the first back in school history to accomplish that feat.
Terry Wilson: The junior college transfer got off to a slow start in his UK debut, losing a fumble and throwing two touchdowns in the first half last week. Coming back from a bruised shoulder suffered in the first half, Wilson settled down in the second half and ended up with 11 completions in 18 attempts for 78 yards.
Josh Allen: An All-America candidate at outside linebacker, Allen had 10 tackles, including three for losses and a sack in the win over CMU. Allen needs to play well if the visitors hope to contain Dan Mullen’s Florida offense.
Florida players to watch
Feleipe Franks: The sophomore quarterback threw five touchdown passes in the first half of Florida’s 53-6 win over Charleston Southern last week. Franks threw for just nine touchdowns last season. Now, however, he is under the tutelage of Mullen, who developed such noted QBs as Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald.
Dameon Pierce: The freshman running back from Bainbridge, Ga. rushed for a team-high 75 yards on nine carries last Saturday. Pierce’s longest gain was 27 yards. A four-star prospect, Pierce is part of a deep Florida backfield. Ten different Gators carried the ball against CSU.
Van Jefferson: The son of ex-NFL wide receiver Shawn Jefferson. Van transferred from Ole Miss after the Rebels were place on probation and was granted immediate eligibility. He caught four passes for 34 yards and two touchdowns last week, teaming with another transfer in former Ohio State wide out Trevon Grimes (three catches, 50 yards and a TD).
Florida is a 13.5-point favorite
Kentucky has not beaten Florida since 1986 when the Cats won 10-3 in Lexington behind quarterback Bill Ransdell (20-of-23 passing) and a stingy defense. UK hasn’t won at Florida Field since 1979 when Fran Curci’s team rolled 31-3. The Cats have lost all 19 trips since.