The Kentucky Wildcats (2-1) lost a heartbreaker at Kroger Field Saturday night as they suffered a fourth-quarter collapse and fell to the No. 9 Florida Gators 29-21. Here’s a summary of the game.

 FIRST QUARTER 

Both defenses got off to a hot start. On the game’s opening drive, Florida drove into Kentucky territory, but Wildcats defensive back Tyrell Ajian grabbed an interception in the end zone and returned it to the UK 25. Kentucky’s first drive wouldn’t go much better, however, as quarterback Sawyer Smith mishandled a snap leading to a turnover. The Gators would take advantage of the sloppy play as Franks hit a wide open Freddie Swain to put the Gators on top 7-0. Kentucky would finish the first quarter fighting, Smith hitting Wagner for 23 yards, Ali for 10 and 18 yards to help set the Cats up to the Florida 26-yard line as the quarter came to a close.

Score After First Quarter: Florida 7, Kentucky 0  

Sawyer Smith nearly took the Cats to a last-second win (Photos by Brandon Thomas)

SECOND QUARTER 

The second quarter started with a bang for the Wildcats as Smith threw the ball up to Wagner, who made a circus catch in the end zone to tie the game at seven. On the next Florida possession, the Wildcat defense forced another turnover as Kordell Looney strip-sacked Franks and Taj Dodson recovered to set the Cats up at their own 46-yard line. Just as Florida did in the first quarter, Kentucky cashed in on the Gator mistake. An 11-play, 54-yard drive ended in a Smith one-yard touchdown run to put Cats up 14-7. Florida would drive down the field toward the end of the half but on third-and-eight at the UK 18, the drive stalled after Lamical Perine was stopped short of the line to gain. The Gators attempted a 27-yard field goal, but kicker Evan McPherson pushed it wide and the Gators came up empty-handed. UK would have one more possession before the end of the half, but it resulted in a punt and with time nearly expired Florida took a knee to end the half. 

Halftime Score: KENTUCKY 14, Florida 7 

 Third QUARTER 

The second half got off to a rocky start for the Cats. Their offense was able to drive down to the Florida 18 yard line, but Smith threw an interception to Shawn Davis who took the pick 72 yards to the Kentucky 21. Despite flipping the field, Florida was held to a 32-yard McPherson field goal as Kentucky’s defense stood its ground. With a 14-10 lead, the UK  offense went to work and put together a quick scoring drive. Set up at the 13-yard line after Flordia defense back Donavon Stiner was ejected for targeting, Smith cashed in by hitting tight end Keaton Upshaw for a 13-yard touchdown to put Kentucky ahead 21-10. Florida’s next possession would see the Gators drive to the Kentucky 38. The Cats held on fourth and one; on that play, Franks would go down with what would be announced as a dislocated ankle, ending his season. Kentucky took over possession and drove to the Florida 38. On the last play of the drive, A.J. Rose was stuffed on third and one giving Mark Stoops a big decision to make during the television timeout. 

Score After Third Quarter: KENTUCKY, 21, Florida 10

 FOURTH QUARTER

After thinking things over, Stoops elected to keep his offense on the field. The decision would not pay off, however, as Rose was stopped short and Kentucky turned it over on downs. Behind by 11 points, backup quarterback Kyle Trask entered the game for the Gators. His first drive would be a successful one as he hit Van Jefferson three times and Josh Hammond for a gain of 14 to bring the Gators to the eight-yard line. On second-and-goal, Perine scored from eight yards out to make it a 21-16 game. After both teams exchanged punts, Kentucky took over at its own eight-yard line with a chance to put the game on ice. That would not be the case, however, as Smith threw another interception to Davis. Florida would take full advantage, putting together a quick four-play drive helped by a pass interference call on UK’s Quandre Mosley and a questionable targeting against UK’s defensive lineman T.J. Carter. On second-and-four at the four-yard line, Trask ran it in for a touchdown. The Gators would miss on a two-point conversion attempt but still reclaimed the lead, 22-21. Trailing for the first time since the first quarter, Kentucky got the ball back with plenty of time to score. On second-and-10 from the UK 39, Wagner drew yet another pass interference to push the Cats into Florida territory. Kentucky would march down to the Florida 17-=yard line, Smith hitting Bowden for 21 yards; Smoke ran the ball three times for nine yards. With fourth and one the Cats called on red-shirt freshman Chance Poore with 54 seconds left in the game. The red-shirt freshman would not come through, however, as he pushed the 35-yard attempt wide. Kentucky’s defense came back onto the field with three timeouts, but on third down, Josh Hammond broke a 76-yard run and took it all the way the end zone to put the nail in the coffin. 

Final Score: Florida 29, Kentucky 21

 MVP: Kyle Trask

The MVP of this one goes to Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. After Franks left the game, the junior entered the came and threw for 126 yards and a touchdown and then added a four-yard score on the ground. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Shawn Davis

Shawn Davis played a big role in the Gators victory as he picked off Smith twice, including returning one of his interceptions 72 yards. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Here’s a look at the highlights from today’s action, courtesy of Victors Valiant.

 

 

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