The Kentucky Wildcats improved to 2-0 on the season with a victory over Eastern Michigan Saturday night. Read all about it here.
Eastern Michigan elected to defer after winning the opening toss, making the Wildcats offense go to work first. The Cats marched into Eagles territory as Terry Wilson ran for 15 yards but the drive stalled at the EMU 43 after Wilson was sacked on third and long.
Kentucky’s defense got off to a hot start as Josh Paschal got into the backfield to take down Eagles running back Shaq Vann and Kash Daniel made a third-down tackle to force a three-and-out. The Wildcats would regain possession with excellent field position as Lynn Bowden took a Jake Julien punt for 29 yards to the EMU 26 yard line. UK would take full advantage of the great field position as A.J. Rose scored on an eight-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 7-0 early.
On their next defensive series, it was again Paschal coming up big for the Wildcats as he stopped Vann for a two-yard loss to force another Eagles punt. The Cats would retake possession and again march down the field as Wilson hit Allen Dailey for 14 yards and then came up on the receiving end of a Bowden throw that went for 32 yards.
Set up in Eagles territory, the Cats wasted no time scoring as Smoke dashed into the end zone from 32 yards out to put Kentucky on top, 14-0.
The quarter came to an end on another defensive high note as Jordan Wright got to Mike Glass III for a third-down sack, forcing another EMU punt.
Score After First Quarter: KENTUCKY 14, EASTERN MICHIGAN 0
Kentucky opened the second quarter with possession and again drove into Eagles territory. After a pair of Wilson runs, the Cats were set up in the red zone but could not cash in as Rose fumbled, Eastern Michigan’s Turan Rush recovering on the Eagles’ own one-yard line.
Luckily for Kentucky, the defense force a turnover as Jordan Griffin picked off Glass and returned it 15 yards to the EMU 11 yard line. The Wildcats would be unable to find the end zone, despite being set up in the red zone but did not come up empty handed as Chance Poore nailed a 40-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-0.
Later in the quarter, Kentucky would retake possession at its own 30-yard line after Daniel picked off Glass on a tipped pass and returned it 18 yards. The Cats would not be able to cash in, however, as a holding penalty took a Smoke touchdown run off the board and Poore missed a 49-yard field goal attempt, handing possession back to EMU.
Eastern Michigan would build some momentum after the missed kick as the Eagles drove down the field to set up a first and goal from the Kentucky six-yard line. The Wildcats defense would force the Eagles to settle for three, however, after Griffin sacked Glass for a five-yard loss.
Kentucky took a 17-3 lead into the half-time locker room.
Halftime Score: KENTUCKY 17, EASTERN MICHIGAN 3
Eastern Michigan would start the second half with the ball and drove into Kentucky territory after Glass hit Dylan Drummond for a 27 yard gain. The drive would stall, however, as Kentucky eventually forced a punt.
After a sluggish second quarter, the Wildcat offense found a rhythm on its first drive of the second half. Bowden hauled in a 34-yard pass, the key play in a 94-yard drive that resulted in a two-yard Wilson touchdown run to put the Cats on top 24-3.
The Eagles would get those seven points back quickly as Glass hit Arthur Jackson for a 38-yard game and then on the very next play, completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Line Latu to cut the UK lead to 24-10.
On the next Kentucky possession, things took a turn for the worse as Wilson would be carted off after a horse-collar tackle by Eastern Michigan’s Turan Rush. Graduate transfer Sawyer Smith checked in at quarterback and fed Smoke, who ran for a combined 18 yards on two carries as the quarter ended at the Kentucky 45 yard line.
Score After Third Quarter: KENTUCKY 24, EASTERN MICHIGAN 10
The fourth quarter would begin with a bang for Kentucky as Smith’s first pass as a Wildcat was a 54-yard touchdown strike to Ahmad Wagner who, despite drawing another pass interference call. broke free to put the Cats on top 31-10.
The Eagles again would get the score back as Glass led his offense down the field and hit Bryson Cannon for a seven-yard touchdown pass to make it a 31-17 game. The Cats put up some insurance late as Smith hit Bowden for a two-yard touchdown to make it 38-17, which would end up being the final score.
Final Score: KENTUCKY 38, Eastern Michigan 17
MVP: Kavosiey Smoke
Tonight’s MVP for the Wildcats was running back Kavosiey Smoke. The redshirt freshman ran for 92 yards on just 11 attempts and scored on a 32-yard touchdown run. He averaged an outstanding 8.4 yards per carry as he emerged as a potential leader in Kentucky’s crowded backfield.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kash Daniel
A shoutout goes to Kash Daniel for leading the Kentucky defense to another solid performance. Daniel recorded five total tackles and grabbed a key interception, which he returned 18 yards.
Here’s a look at the highlights from tonight’s action, courtesy of UK Athletics.