Ole Miss defeated Kentucky 37-34 at Kroger field in front of a crowd of 55,665.

Game Notes

From UK Athletics

Stephen Johnson. Photo by Curtis Burch

KENTUCKY POSTGAME NOTES

Ole Miss at Kentucky

Kroger Field, Lexington, Ky.

Nov. 4, 2017

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 34, Ole Miss 37

Team Records and Series Notes

  • Kentucky is 6-3 overall, 3-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss is 4-5 overall, 2-4 in the league.
  • Ole Miss leads the all-time series in games played 28-14-1. Kentucky leads the all-time series in games played in Lexington, 11-10-1.
  • The Wildcats will return to action on Nov. 11 at Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET and will be televised on the SEC Network.

Team Notes

  • Kentucky out rushed Ole Miss 219-91.
    • This marked the sixth time this season UK has outrushed its opponent.
  • The Wildcats won the time of possession battle 36:15 to 23:40.
    • This marked the fifth time this season UK has won the time of possession battle. It is the first time this season UK has accomplished that and lost the game.
  • Neither team had a turnover in the game, keeping Kentucky’s season turnover margin at +2.
  • Kentucky had a season-high 10 different receivers make a reception in the game.
  • UK scored on its first five possessions to start the game, which is the longest stretch of consecutive scoring drives this season.
  • This was the first time in Kroger Field history that UK has had five consecutive home games decided by six points or less.
  • Kentucky is now 8-3 in games decided by seven points or less the past two seasons.
  • UK has scored 20 or more points in the first half of three straight home games in the same season for the first time since 2006.
    • Kentucky has scored at least 27 points in four consecutive SEC home games for the first time since 2010.

Player Notes

  • UK’s game captains were OG Nick Haynes, QB Stephen Johnson, LB Courtney Love and S Mike Edwards. They have been game captains every game this season.
  • Senior quarterback Stephen Johnson went 19-for-24 in the game for 204 yards and one touchdown.
    • Johnson completed 12 straight passes in the game, which was the fifth longest completion streak in a game in program history.
  • Sophomore running back Benny Snell rushed a game-high 28 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
    • Snell is the first player in school history with at least five 100-yard rushing games in back-to-back seasons.
    • Snell is the first player in school history with at least 176 rushing yards in back-to-back games.
    • Snell’s rushing total was the second most ever by a UK player against Ole Miss.
    • This is the second consecutive game that Benny Snell has had two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
    • Snell is the first UK player with three rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games since Moe Williams in 1995.
    • Snell has the most rushing yards in consecutive SEC games 356 by a UK player since Artose Pinner against LSU and Vanderbilt in 2002. He had 367 combined.
  • Senior wide receiver Garrett Johnson caught three passes in the game and has caught at least one pass in 20 consecutive games.
  • Junior safety Mike Edwards led Kentucky in tackles with 11, he added a quarterback hurry.
    • Edwards has recorded 10 or more tackles in five games this season.
  • Junior linebacker Jordan Jones had eight tackles, one sack and three tackles-for-loss in the game.
  • Freshman nose guard Quinton Bohanna and junior cornerback Lonnie Johnson, Jr. each made their first career starts in the game.

After the game players and coaches spoke to the media.

Mark Stoops 

Eddie Gran

Stephen Johnson 

Benny Snell

CJ Conrad 

Courtney Love 

Josh Allen 

Isaiah Epps

Box Score

Quotes 

Kentucky Football Postgame Quotes

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss

Kroger Field – Lexington, Ky.

Nov. 4, 2017

Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops

MARK STOOPS: Obviously a very devastating loss. You know, the bottom line is we didn’t make enough plays in critical moments. They did. I was proud of our offense taking it down and putting it in the end zone there. We came up fractions off, and it’s a difficult loss.

I thought we had it won with the fumble, and we’ve got to come back and convert and play, and they made a super-competitive catch in the end zone and we didn’t. It’s a game of inches. Give them credit; they played very hard. We knew they were explosive and a tough match-up at times offensively, and we didn’t make enough plays defensively.

Offensively, same thing, we had opportunities to pull away and couldn’t get it done, so it’s a team loss, and each phase had an opportunity to make a difference and didn’t do it. That’s the result we get.

Q. You guys scored on your first five possessions and then went four straight three-and-outs. What do you think changed offensively?
MARK STOOPS: Well, there was one drop in there that I remember that stuck out, and then we just got off balance. You know, we — the three-and-outs hurt, especially I think we were up 10 for a couple of those, and we just got off balance.

Q. Where do you go from here in the passing game after a game like this?
MARK STOOPS: Back to work. You know, there’s only so many things you can do. I mean, we tried rolling it. We tried playing zone. We tried playing man. We tried pressing. We tried playing off. We tried a bit of everything.

Q. How do you think your corners are playing the ball in the air?
MARK STOOPS: Not as good as they should at times. It’s difficult. I thought the last play there Lonnie played it good. He was getting physical, he was in good shape. You’ve got to strip it out. He went up and got it in by inches, and we’ve just got to finish it all the way to the ground.

Q. I know you talk about hindsight and all these things, but when you are up 10, they kind of give you a punt and you get the ball on their side of the field. Looking back do you wish you would have gone for the kill shot there?
MARK STOOPS: Going for it on 4th down?

Q. Just the approach offensively, I guess.
MARK STOOPS: Well, we ran it on 3rd down because we were going to go for it on 4th if we got it manageable, and I think we lost a yard or two. You know, I think that was the thinking on going for it on 3rd down, and then they brought another element, they brought a zero blitz right at the snap there and got us in a negative yardage play, and then we had to kick it.

Q. Was there any confidence that you guys had this situation almost every game at home, that the game was going to come down to a final possession?
MARK STOOPS: Well, you don’t want it to be like that. I mean, obviously we’d like to put it away. But you know, as we’ve said throughout this year, we’re going to be in some close games. You know, it’s very close either way at times, and like I said, for a moment there we were all celebrating. We thought we had it won. So our guys thought the ball was loose on the fumble, but evidently it wasn’t.

Q. They were a big play offense, a prolific passing offense. Did they do anything differently in the passing game that you weren’t expecting?
MARK STOOPS: No, they didn’t. You know, they did what they do, and as I told you all week, their run game has a run-pass option off of it on every snap, and they converted when we were in zone, they got in soft spots. Against man they protected and got open and converted. Again, we tried a bit of everything and didn’t defend very well.

Q. What did you think of Benny Snell’s play?
MARK STOOPS: Great effort out of Benny, yeah. Really good effort. Yeah, it’s difficult to — it’s tough because we were running it and having great success running it. We were trying to throw it, and I think we — we had them off balance. I think we had our opportunities, that’s for sure, but Benny had a great effort.

Q. Being 6-2 at home, how much of a missed opportunity was this?
MARK STOOPS: I mean, it’s always like that in every game. Back is against the wall every game in this job, and that’s the way it is. Every game is important.

Q. I think Lynn had the most touches he’s had all year. How much more confidence do you have with him having the ball in his hands?
MARK STOOPS: We have a lot of confidence in him, and as the year goes on and as we’ve been talking about trying to build in plays and options for him and ways to create and get him the football, as he learns the wide receiver position, but he’s doing some very good things. As you can see, he’s very talented and can do a lot — he’s very multiple.

Q. Did you think Ole Miss getting the ball out quick effected the pass rush?
MARK STOOPS: Yes. Yeah, for sure. Some of the blocking schemes and the way they get rid of it, yeah.

Q. On a positive note, CJ Conrad was a big part of the offense again. Comment on his play.
MARK STOOPS: Well, you know, as we’ve talked about all year, when the situations are there, we took advantage of it, and that was an RPO that we hit him on, the one that he scored the long touchdown on, and that was some of what they were doing to us, and they left him open on that particular play. But again, we’ve had those things called all year. They were defending him.

Q. On a positive note, how great was it to be able to honor all the military?
MARK STOOPS: It’s always an honor for us to acknowledge the military.

Q. You were up 10 and they have a holding penalty, you decline it. What was your thinking there?
MARK STOOPS: Yeah, the way they were throwing the football, we needed stops. It was still a long field goal. We were getting some pressure and thought we had an opportunity to get one, but in hindsight if we could have pushed them back a bit further, but you hate to get a pass interference or some way where they move the chains there, as well.

Q. Coaches always talk about the 24-hour rule, get over it and move on. It’s nice, but it doesn’t always work like that as much as you try. Because of what happened, is this emotionally going to be very difficult to get your kids to move on?
MARK STOOPS: It better not be. We can’t let it be. We have to get back to work. We have three big games left, and we’ve got to invest. It should hurt a lot if you invest a lot. It hurts.

 

UK Student-Athletes

#15, Stephen Johnson, QB

On what was working well for the offense…

“We just executed the plays that we run in practice. We were running the ball really well, we were passing the ball really well, and we were just really being efficient.”

On what went wrong for the offense…

“There’s a few mistakes here and there that we have to get fixed including me missing a couple of throws on third down and second down. We can’t fall back behind like that.”

On Benny’s performance…

“Benny did incredible. I’m so proud of him. I talked to him afterwards and told him to keep his head up because he puts his heart and soul into it. You can tell that this loss hit him the hardest even though he did so well. I told him to keep his head up.”

#51, Courtney Love, LB

On emotions at the end of the game…

“We knew it was going to be a 50/50 call. Coach even told us to calm back down after the fumble thing happened. I told the defense that regardless we have to go back out there and we have to make a play. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make that play in the last seconds. It’s a tough situation, but I’m very proud of my team. I think that we battled the whole game and played hard. Obviously there’s some things that we need to fix up defensively but I’m so proud of just the way we battled and it’s tough to be in these close games, but it just shows that our team is resilient and we’re definitely getting better and I’m just so proud of our team for finishing. I know that we’re going to get back to work. Tomorrow’s going to be hard, but we’re not going to sulk and we’re just going to get back to work Monday.”

On pass defense…

“It’s football. You’re going to have those days where maybe your pass defense isn’t as great or your run defense isn’t as great, but we have to rally together as a team and just get stronger.”

On what defense needs to fix…

“Just our approach. Maybe playing harder on a play or seeing our coverage, just stuff like that. We need to start doing the things that we know we can do. It’s nothing in particular, it’s just football and we have to get better at what we do.”

#26, Benny Snell, Jr., RB

On if he thought Ole Miss having two minutes to go was too much time…

“No sir, I felt like I was confident in my defense to get a stop and get them off the field. They run that fast paced offense and get off the field so quick. It is what it is.”

On having three-and-outs opening the second half…

“I just felt like it was the little things. We were running the ball and I felt like I could have been more patient. They were cutting my blockers when they were leading through and my line was getting a push every single time. It was just a matter of me beating the safety and corners. For the passes, they just weren’t working. There were just little errors here and there.” 

On how crushing the loss was tonight…

“Not that crushing. Every loss is the same to me. Next week I’m going to try to do even better than I did this week, just like I did before. Losses are hard on us and on me especially, but Stoops is going to get us together and we are going to learn and win next week.”

#41, Josh Allen, LB

On the emotional win last week and how it was the exact opposite tonight…

“Yeah you know it hurt. Especially the last play of the game. We practice this kind of stuff in practice so we felt like we were prepared but that guy made a heck of a catch.”

On how important it is to get over this loss with the three big games ahead…

“You know, next week is a big game for us. It’s a game we have to win. It’s a conference game so we can go 7-3. We are going to have to start tomorrow. Everybody gets treatment so that when Monday comes we can roll around and get it started over again.” 

On bouncing back quickly from such a tough loss…

“I think we are a strong team. We are built for this. Like I said last week, this is new Kentucky we aren’t like old Kentucky. We are here to make changes and compete our butt off every week. Next week we are giving it everything we got because we have to get it done.”

#87 CJ Conrad, TE

On seven seconds left and his emotions…

“No doubt, it’s crushing, but every lose hurts and we’ve got to get over it and get back to work. Yeah, it hurts. It hurts to lose that way, but at the end of the day its one loss. It’s the same as losing to Mississippi State, we got to watch some film, move on and get better.”

On how hard it will be to get over loss…

“No doubt. This is a league where you can’t hold your head down. I mean, you have to keep your head up because it’s a grown man’s league and you can’t pout. We have to get over it. It’s going to suck tonight, tomorrow, but come Monday we got to watch some film and get back to work because we have a great opponent come next Saturday. So we have to get this off us right away.”

On finding the end zone again…

“Yeah, it was nice to get in the end zone again. Obviously, you know, I would like to do that when we win maybe it’s just bad luck, because the last two times I’ve scored we’ve lost so maybe I shouldn’t get in the end zone.”

#81 Isaiah Epps, WR

On how tough this loss is…

“I mean, it’s a tough loss. We played well the whole game. I mean, we were up by a pretty decent amount and then just little plays down the stretch just slipped away from us at the end. But I think we’ll come back ready for the next one.”

On thinking you had the game won …

“Definitely, definitely thought we had the game won and even on that fumble, that was ruled a fumble on the field, we thought that would seal the deal.”

Ole Miss Head Coach Matt Luke Quotes

Opening comments…

“Just really proud of our guys, they kept showing up every week battling and they continued to do that tonight and put themselves in a position to win the game and at the end the ball went our way. We made a play to win the game so there are just a lot of happy guys in that locker room and you know just happy for the kids. They’ve been battling and I’m glad something finally went their way.”

On how it felt losing at the last second to Arkansas at Ole Miss compared to winning at the last second against Kentucky…

“You know, Arkansas didn’t matter tonight. It was just about us and about our kids. They fought and they showed up. You know I think in the back of people’s mind everybody was like ‘When are these guys going to quit? When are they going to give up? When are they not going to show up?.’ And they just continued to show up, continued to fight. I’m just really really proud especially when Breeland (Speaks) goes down, you know Austrian’s (Robinson) not there, Breeland (Speaks) goes down, they score and go up, we’re down 10 on the road. They didn’t say ‘Here we go again.’ They just kept fighting and battling, these young kids are stepping up. You know, we’ve got 12 seniors and we’re a young team but they’re getting better and better and better and they’re starting to see what it takes to win in the SEC.”

On if he questioned his team’s resiliency in the sense of if they would come out and play hard…

“Well, I mean if you base it on what they’ve done in the past you don’t question it a bit because they just keep showing up, they keep coming to work and when everything points against them, they just keep showing up. We talked about being at your best at the darkest hour and then we also talked about if you heard them screaming ‘212’. Water is just hot at 211, but if you go up that extra degree water starts boiling and that’s what we were trying to do. We’re trying to get everybody to give us that one extra degree in the second half to make that water start boiling.”

On the four straight defensive stops in the second half…

“You know, I’m just proud of our defense. They were struggled a little bit, but they just kept battling. Man, they kept battling and gave us stops and they gave us an opportunity to win the game and I’m just proud of the guys like Gates. He’s out there and has two bad shoulders and he’s just throwing his body around year round. I’m just so proud of the young guys that are growing up, I think Willie had been there when Breeland (Speaks) went out and Austrian (Robinson), so the guys out there were just battling and competing so I’m really, really happy for those guys.”

On his thought process of having 3 plays left with 15 seconds left…

“We wanted clock stoppers, we wanted to take shots at the end zone or nothing, we didn’t want to take a sack. So, you know we threw a play to A.J. and we felt like they were going to bring all out pressure so then we knew we had a one-on-one to D.K. (Metcalf) and he made a play.”

Ole Miss Student-Athletes

#3 DeMarquis Gates, LB

On getting a win…

“It feels great. I just want to give all glory to God first. He made it happen, but great team effort today. We were just able to pull it out.”

On four-straight stops keeping them in the game…

“We just had to come and play as a defense. You know we had a lockdown coming out of halftime. We were just trying to get the ball in the offense hands. We know they can score, and put points on the board, so just trying to give it back to them throughout plays.”

On having any doubt within Kentucky’s last drive…

“Most definitely, we always believe in our team. We always believe in the offense. Of course, were going to have that little doubt, were human. But it all comes down to it, getting back to it, getting back on the field, and making the plays you’re supposed to make. That’s what happened, D.K. (Metcalf) made a play he was supposed to make.”

#10 Jordan Ta’amu, QB

On thoughts when played being reviewed on potential fumble…

“I knew my elbow was on the ground, or some part of my body was on the ground, so I wasn’t worried about that. I was just worried about the next play and what we were going to do as an offense.”

On final drive while on the road (first time in SEC career) …

“I’ve been through that situation in high school and in junior college. I just had to stay focused and do my job. I knew my O-line had my back, I knew my receivers had my back and we had to drive from there and score, and that’s what we did.”

On his words to the offense before Ole Miss took the field before the final drive…

“I said let’s go and put this in and let’s win this game and go back home, and that’s exactly what we did. Huge shoutout to my O-line and all that just protecting me out there.”

On if 2:14 was enough time left on the clock to score…

“That was more than enough time for us, that I believe and us with our tempo, we just needed to go faster and I knew we were going to score and that’s what we did.”

When asked about his initial thoughts on the location of the final pass…

“Whenever I throw a ball one-on-one, it’s either the back of the end zone or my receiver will catch it. I trusted D.K. Metcalf and made a wonderful catch and he won us that ballgame.”

On what this win means to the team…

“Right now we just gotta celebrate with Coach Luke, we just gotta come back next week and continue that winning streak and end the season well.

On his awareness of pocket pressure when Ole Miss had no time outs left…

“I was just worried about being sacked and all that, I just have to play smart. If the routes weren’t there I was going to throw it away and if I did get sacked, I was about to spike it and all that. Just got to be smart and that’s what we did.

On the spike on first down…

“The clock was running and we just needed to stop the clock and that’s exactly what we did.”

On how he stays so calm…

“Just being me and just trust in God, he’s going to carry the way for me. Just go out there and perform and that’s what we did.

On whether or not he initially thought D.K. Metcalf caught the ball…

“Yes I did. As soon as he caught the ball, I knew it was a touchdown, I knew they were going to review it, but in my head I knew it was a touchdown from the start and it was a wonderful catch by him.”

On his feelings when they won…

“It was an awesome feeling. I was super excited, I was pumped, I was jumping up and down. I was celebrating with the coaches on the sideline already. I knew it was a touchdown. D.K. (Metcalf) just being D.K. out there.”

On his words to D.K. Metcalf after the play…

“I just said ‘What a grab.’ There’s a basic, regular, routine catch for him, and I was just so pumped I didn’t even say words, I was just jumping up and down and excited for our team.”

#14, D.K. Metcalf, WR

On if he knew he was in bounds on the final catch…

“Most definitely.”

On the quality of the throw…

“Oh, yes sir. Jordan (Ta’amu) put it on the money, just for me to turn around and just make a play.”

When asked about how calm the team was moving down the field…

“Yes sir, we’ve been hit in the mouth all year. You know, we’ve kept our composure in every situation and Ta’amu, he controlled the offense, drove the ball down the field, and we executed as a team.”

On whether he anticipated Jordan Ta’amu’s good performance as QB…

“Yes sir, we practice with him every day. We all just get to see what he does at practice every day.”

On Kentucky’s coverage…

“They threw a lot of different coverages at us and, you know, the game plan for cover two, cover four, man – which we’ve worked on every day at practice, and just watched film.

On the surge in performance during tonight’s game, as opposed to previous matchups…

“It’s anybody’s week in our offense. Today we had A.J. (Moore), Van (Jefferson), (DaMarkus) Lodge, I mean, Dawson (Knox). I mean, it could be anybody’s game.”

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