Wildcats stun Gators with second-half comeback
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fifty thousand dollars. This is the first fine for member institutions of the Southeastern Conference that allow their fans to storm any land or land.
After beating Florida for 10th at home on Saturday night for the first time in 35 years, the University of Kentucky will be happy to draw that check. Heck, the Wildcats can even add a few thousand more, just for the fun of it.
UF quarterback Emory jones fourth descent towards Trent Whittemore fell incomplete with 18 seconds left and sparked a Big Blue Nation celebration for more than three decades, as Kentucky claimed a historic 20-13 victory before a sold-out madhouse at Kroger Field. The win was the Wildcats’ first over an Associated Press top 10 opponent since losing Steve spurrier and South Carolina, 10th in the 2010 standings and kept the Wildcats (5-0, 3-0) unbeaten and tied with second-placed Georgia in the Southeast Conference Eastern Division standings. .
Trevin Wallace returned a blocked Jace christmann 76 yard field goal for a touchdown for the go-ahead score in the third quarter. Minutes later, the Cats capitalized on a Emory jones interception when hooker Chris Rodriguez Jr. allowed his team to score two runs in the fourth with a 9-yard touchdown with just over nine minutes to go.
After that, Kentucky had to hang on, leaving it to their defense, but willingly accepting a flurry of self-inflicted injuries in Florida. Namely, 15 penalties for 115 yards, including eight false starts, each starting offensive lineman counting at least one.
“In the SEC, you are not going to make the mistakes we made and win a game,” UF coach Dan Mullen noted.
The last of those proved fatal, after Jones shifted his offense to a Kentucky 5 first and goal with 31 seconds left. After losing four yards on a swing pass, a false start backed the Gators up five more and ultimately resulted in a fourth and one in eight goal with the game in play.
The Kentucky game, as it turned out.
“They had seven or eight shots at the end,” said Britain coach Mark Stoops. “It’s a tough hill to have to beat them so many times. But there was another false start and, thank you, the fans, for affecting the game.”
The Wildcats finished with just 224 total yards of attack and 13 first downs. Quarterback Will Levis completed just seven of his 17 attempts for 87 yards (almost half on a play), with one touchdown and one interception. Rodriguez, the rushed SEC leader entering the game, carried 19 times for 99 yards and the game sealer.
For the Gators (3-2, 1-2), Jones was 23 of 31 for 203 yards and a first quarter touchdown to go with that big pick in the fourth quarter, plus 63 rushing yards on 13 carries. Florida entered the game averaging 36.0 points and 540 attacking yards per game, including 322.5 rushing (SEC tops). The Gators only managed 382 total yards and 171 rushing, respectively.
“The main thing we had to do was get out there and deal with the environment,” Jones said of his first SEC start on the road. “I think we did it for part of the game, but we just had too many penalties.”
The return of the backup quarterback Anthony richardson, who missed UF’s first two SEC games with hamstring pain, turned out to be a simple footnote. He made cameos over three series, hitting his only eight-yard pass attempt and rushing for 25 yards five times.
Mullen was asked what was wrong with the offense.
“The sanctions,” he said. “They weren’t like sticky things. You talk about taking third downs on the board, third downs and supporting us, taking conversions and first downs on the board with holding penalties. Those were the problems. . ”
And the multitude of false starts?
“It’s a lack of mental toughness,” he said.
The night did not start so badly. After a punt exchange, UF first found the scoreboard. A couple of 13 meters pass Dameon Pierce, an 11-yard goalie in the middle of an area read by Richardson, plus a 22-yard Jones-to-Xzavier henderson the completion had the Gators in UK 7. On the second try, Jones made a quick pass to his left in the second year. Ja’Quavion Fraziars grabbed it, shot up the field and dove across the goal line for a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
It was soon 7-7. The Cats only needed five games to tie UF’s 75 yards. Levis threw at Wan’Dale Robinson on a fast-hitting wide screen to the right. The quick Robinson backed off against the Florida chase, made a pair of arm tackles and covered 41 yards for the touchdown.
The following points have not happened before Jace christmann had a 46-yard field goal overruled by a delay flag just before throwing the kick off. Backed up from five yards, Christmann pelted a 51-yard lead for a 10-7 lead with 5:32 left in the first half.
This is how things were held at the break.
Florida had a great chance to make it a two-point game in the third period when Levis managed a pass to Josh Ali that hit the UF defensive back’s chest. Tre’Vez Johnson, who returned the game for 26 yards to Kentucky 16. But even this potential game changer was married by a UF flag. Defensive tackle Antonio valentino was called up for an illegal block on the return, pushing the Gators back to UK 31 as a starting point. On the 3rd and 3rd, Dameon Pierce rushed down the left side for 10 yards and what looked like a first down but center Kingsley Eguakon was flagged for holding on, wiping out the first down and putting UF in a third and long he didn’t could not convert.
Enter Christmann to attempt a 48-yard field goal. The kick was blocked at the line by defensive tackle Joshua Paschal. The ball fell into the arms of Wallace, who swung and weaved the left side of the pitch, through the Gators’ kicking unit and – with the crowd going bonkers Big Blue – ran home with a return of 76 yards.
“My job is to play it safe there in case something goes wrong,” Wallace said. “The ball flipped over and came straight at me.… I knew what to do when I got the ball. I felt a lineman’s hand brush against me and I knew I was gone. . ”
The point after was blocked, but the Cats were still leading 13-10 with 6:36 on the clock and all the momentum.
“You can’t have the shot blocked,” Mullen said. “It’s a 10 point swing.”
After Kentucky forced a UF punt, the Wildcats started their 19. On the first down, they got a 13-yard Levis-to-Robinson touchline, plus 15 more yards on a late shot from Blades of Elijah. The UK moved on to Florida 34 and faced a fourth and two in the first game of the fourth quarter.
Out of the shutdown, Christopher Rodriguez Jr. was pissed off without gain by Brenton Cox Jr. and Trey Dean III. Back on the momentum of the Gators. But not for long.
Jones was intercepted two plays later by linebacker JJ Weaver, who returned the 20-yard game to UF 29.
Lévis, despite a sleeve snap on the third and second, converted with a run in the line and a gain of seven yards. Two snaps later, Rodriguez came out on the right side unscathed for a 9-yard touchdown and a 20-10 lead with 11:32 left in the game.
Florida had a promising practice, moving 59 yards in 13 plays, but had to settle for Christmann’s 33-yard field goal which closed the lead to seven with 6:23 left.
That left things up to the UF defense, who did their job of forcing a three-and-out and giving the ball to Jones with 4:39 left to play and 62 yards to tie. 14 yard completions at Gamble, then 18 and 11 at Jacob Copeland had the Gators in business in UK 19. Another false start, however, put Jones late, but a face mask penalty against Kentucky gave UF another run of low at 5.
The next four pieces:
* 1st and goal of 5: Completion at Copeland for a loss of four.
* 2nd and goal of 9: False start (stall Malik davis).
* 2nd and goal of 14: Jones runs for three.
* 3rd and goal of 11: Jones to Davis for three yards.
* 4th and goal of 8: Incomplete for Whittemore in the end zone (and not even close).
Eleven seconds later: Pandemonium in blue.
“Deflate,” said UF defensive end Zach Carter. “You can’t have as many mistakes as we do.”