The Kentucky Wildcats fell to 4-5 on the season with a home loss to the Tennessee Volunteers. Here’s a recap of all the action from Kroger Field.
Tennessee won the toss and elected to defer setting up Lynn Bowden and the Wildcats with the ball to start the game. The Wildcats began to move the ball downfield after A.J. Rose ran for an eight-yard gain on a third-down play, and Bowden hit Clevan Thomas for an eight-yards to move the Cats near midfield. Kentucky would promptly move into Tennessee territory after a seven-yard Bowden run and six-yard gain by Kavosiey Smoke. The Cats would drive to the Tennessee 37 yard-line, where they faced a fourth and one. The Wildcats elected to go for it, and the decision paid off as Sawyer Smith checked in and ran the quarterback sneak to perfection for a first down. From there, Bowden moved back under center and ran on back to back plays for a combined 23 yards to move his team inside the 15 yard-line. Later Kentucky would move inside the four-yard line where on second and goal from the two Rose ran in the games first touchdown to put the Wildcats on top 7-0. Kentucky’s opening drive accounted for an incredible 10 minutes and 18 seconds of game-time. Tennessee’s opening drive would not last nearly as long. Jamar “Boogie” Watson took down running back Ty Chandler for a three-yard loss to put the Vols behind the chains as they’d eventually go three and out. Then it was Kentucky’s special teams turn to make a play as Josh Paschal blocked a Paxton Brooks punt, which was recovered by Kentucky’s Drew Schlegel at the Tennessee 24-yard line. The Wildcats would cash in quickly as Smoke scored on a 22-yard touchdown run. Tennessee would block the Chance Poore extra point attempt as UK took an early 13-0 lead. After forcing another Tennessee three and out, Kentucky regained possession at their own 16-yard line with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. The first quarter came to an end with Kentucky facing a third and three at their own 34 yard-line.
Score After First Quarter: Kentucky 13, Tennessee 0
The second quarter of play began with Tennessee forcing a Kentucky punt. Tennessee quickly picked up their first, first down of the day after quarterback Brian Maurer connected with Jauan Jennings for a 30 yard gain. Soon after, the Vols would move into the red zone after Maurer hit Josh Palmer for a 17 yard-gain and 14 to set the Vols up at the UK 16 yard line. Tennessee looked as if they were on their way to finding the end zone, but offensive lineman Trey Smith drew a costly unnecessary roughness penalty that the Vols would not recover from as they were held to a 26-yard Brent Cimaglia field goal, cutting the lead to 13-3. On their ensuing possession, Kentucky quickly moved into Tennessee territory as Rose rain for 26 yards. It appeared the drive would stall, however, as Kentucky faced a fourth down and two from the Vols 20 yard-line. Instead, Kentucky decided to again go for it on fourth down. This time it was Bowden who picked up the first with a three-yard run. On the very next play, however, Tennessee caught a break as linebacker Nigel Warrior stepped in front of Kentucky tight end Justin Rigg and intercepted a Bowden pass. The play was originally called a 78-yard touchdown as Warrior took the interception to the house, but after further review, he was ruled out of bounds at the Tennessee 46 yard line. Instead of scoring a Touchdown, the Vols ended up wasting the turnover as they went three and out and punted the ball back to Kentucky. Kentucky’s drive got off to a fast start as Bowden ran for a 21 yard gain to start the drive. The Wildcats would quickly move into Tennessee territory soon after as Bowden ran for a gain of 12 after originally looking as if he’d go down for a loss. Kentucky would not be able to score points, however, as Tennessee forced a Max Duffy punt. Despite having just 16 seconds to work with Tennessee decided to take a shot downfield from their own 20. The decision looked like a wise one as Maurer completed a 34-yard pass to Marquez Callaway to set up the Vols at the UK 46 yard line. Tennessee, however, was unable to get into field goal range they attempted a hail marry, but the pass fell incomplete as Kentucky took a 10 point lead into the half-time locker room.
Halftime Score: Kentucky 13, Tennessee 3
To open the second half, the Vols turned to Jarrett Guarantano at quarterback. Guarantano made an immediate impact as he connected with Callaway for a 33 yard gain. The next play looked as if it was a Tennessee touchdown as Guarantano hit Domnick Wood-Anderson in the end zone for a touchdown, but the points were taken off the board after the Vols were called for an ineligible man downfield. Despite this, the Vols were able to move into the red zone after an 11 yard run on third down by Guarantano. Then it was again Callaway making a big play for the Vols as he leaped over Jordan Griffin to haul in a 17-yard touchdown pass to trim the Kentucky lead to 13-10. After forcing a Kentucky three and out, Tennessee had an opportunity to either tie the game or take their first lead of the day. Tennessee again came up firing as Guarantano connected with Jennings and Callaway for a combined 38 yards to move inside the Kentucky 30 yard line. Later in the drive, Tennessee would take the lead as Guarantano connected with Palmer in the corner of the end zone to take a 17-13 lead. On the Wildcats ensuing possession, Chris Rodriguez was able to provide a spark as he ran for 11 yards on a third and long. Eddie Gran continued to ride Rodriguez as he took two carries a combined 27 yards to move the Wildcats into Tennessee territory. The drive would stall out; however, as on fourth and six at the Tennessee 32 yard line, Bowden was sacked by Tennessee’s Matthew Butler to force a turnover on downs. The quarter would come to a close with Tennessee facing a third and nine from their own 39 yard-line.
Score After Third Quarter: Tennessee 17, Kentucky 13
The fourth quarter’s first play saw an incomplete pass, which forced a Tennessee punt. After a holding penalty on the punt, Kentucky started their next drive on their own five-yard line. The drive got off to a good start as Bowden hit Josh Ali for a 12 yard pick up. Then Rodriguez again came up big as he ran for a 23 yard gain to move Kentucky near midfield. Later in the drive, it looked like Kentucky would be forced to punt as Bowden threw incomplete on 3rd and 14, but a Butler roughing the passer penalty gave Kentucky the first down. The drive would not result in points, however, as the Cats later turned the ball over on downs after a Bowden pass on fourth, and three from the Tennessee 38 yard-line fell incomplete. Needing a big-play, Kentucky turned to their defense who was able to provide just that. Tennessee running back Ty Chandler fumbled a handoff, and Kentucky’s Marquan Mccal fell on it to set up Kentucky at the Vols 45 yard line. From there, Bowden ran for a nine-yard gain and Smoke for 11 to move Kentucky inside the Tennessee 25. Later in the drive, both Rodriguez and Bowden converted on third down runs as the Cats moved to the Tennessee six-yard line. The Cats would drive the ball down to the Tennessee two-yard line where the Vols would stuff Bowden forcing a turnover on downs with 1:17 left to play. Kentucky had to force a three and out in order to keep the game alive but could not get the job done as Guarantano scrambled for 10 yards to pick up a first down and seal a victory for the Volunteers.
Final Score: Tennessee 17, Kentucky 13
MVP: Jarrett Guarantano
After not getting the start, Guarantano entered the game in the second half and perhaps won himself the starting job for the rest of the season. The red-shirt junior completed 7-8 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns while adding 30 yards on the ground on just six carries.
HONORABLE MENTION: Marquez Callaway
The Wildcats did not have an answer for senior receiver Marquez Callaway. Callaway won three jump balls against Kentucky defenders and finished the day with four catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Here’s a look at tonight’s highlights brought to you by Matthew Loves Ball.