The No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats dropped their season opener to the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare-Stadium after being outscored 21-6 in the second half as they fell by a final score of 29-13.
Here’s a breakdown of all the action:
Kentucky won the opening toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Tigers started their drive with great field position as Shaun Shivers took the opening kickoff to the 34-yard line. Auburn would drive down to the UK 46-yard line, but their Quinton Bohanna and Phil Hoskins stopped Shivers short on third and two forcing a Tigers punt.
Later in the drive, Kentucky faced a third and three from the Auburn 35-yard line and found pay dirt as Kavosiey Smoke broke free for a 35-yard touchdown drive to give UK a 7-0 lead with 6:44 left in the first quarter. The drive went for an incredible 93-yards as Kentucky took an early lead.
After the touchdown, Auburn’s offense began to build momentum as Shivers ran for 11-yards, Bo Nix hit Seth Williams for 26-yards and Anthony Schwartz for 23-yards to set up first and goal from the one-yard line. On second and goal, Auburn found the end one with a one-yard D.J. Williams touchdown run and took the lead after Grant Loy connected with John Samuel Shenker on a two-point conversion to give the Tigers an 8-7 lead with 4:30 play in the quarter.
Kentucky’s next drive got off to a rough start as Chris Rodriguez was stopped for a six-yard loss but Wilson was able to use his legs on back to back plays to pick up a combined 20-yards and give Kentucky a first down.
The quarter would come to an end after Wilson was stopped short on third down at the Auburn 39-yard line leaving UK facing a fourth down and three.
Score After First Quarter: Auburn 8, Kentucky 7
The second quarter got off to a nightmare start for Kentucky as on fourth and three from the Auburn 39-yard line, Wilson threw incomplete as UK turned the ball over on downs and set up Auburn with stellar field position.
Auburn would take advantage of the quality field position and dive into the red zone, but on fourth and one from the UK 16 yard-line the Wildcats defense got a stop as DeAndre Square stopped Williams behind the line of scrimmage to turn the Tigers over on downs with 12:16 left in the half.
Kentucky’s following possession would get off to a hot start as Smoke ran for 14-yards to the UK 30-yard line. The Cats would move into Auburn field possession two plays later as Wilson found a wide-open Ali for 33-yards setting up the Wildcats at the Auburn 37-yard line.
The drive would fizzle out, however, as Keaton Upshaw was called for holding on a play that saw Rose gain eight yards allowing Auburn’s defense to get in a rhythm and force a punt.
Kentucky would regain possession at the Auburn 35-yard line with 4:20 to play in the half after their defense forced an Auburn three and out. UK would face a third down early in the drive but converted in a big way as Wilson found Allen Dailey Jr. over the middle for 40-yards moving Kentucky into the red zone.
The Wildcats would drive the ball down to the Auburn one-yard line were on first and goal, it appeared Rodriguez found the end zone, but the officials ruled his knee down just short. Instead, it was the Tigers who ended up with seven-points as Roger McCreary picked off Wilson. McCreary would take the interception 100 yards for a touchdown, but a targeting penalty against the Tigers on the return took the score off the board.
Halftime Score: Auburn 8, Kentucky 7
The second half got off to a rough start for the UK offense as they went three and out on their first drive. After a 53-yard Max Duffy punt, Auburn’s offense began to roll as Nix hit S. Williams for 32-yards to move the Tigers into Kentucky territory. The drive would fizzle out as UK forced a punt.
Kentucky’s ensuing possession would start at their own 2-yard line where UK would again go three and out and be forced to punt. Despite the punt coming from deep in his own end zone, Duffy would flip field position as he booted a 75-yard punt to the Auburn 25-yard line.
Auburn would drive into UK territory on their next drive as Nix hit S. Williams for 25-yards and Eli Stove for 12. Later in the drive, the Tigers moved inside the 25-yard line after a Kelvin Joseph unsportsmanlike conduct and then to the nine-yard line after a five-yard Tank Bigsby run. On third and goal, the Tigers hit pay dirt as Nix connected with S. Williams for an 11-yard touchdown to put the Tigers in front 15-7.
Needing a spark, Kentucky drove into Auburn territory as Wilson found Akeem Hayes for 16-yards to the Tigers 45-yard line. On third and four from the Auburn 39-yard line, the Wildcats moved into the red zone as Wilson hit Rose on a screen pass for 25-yards. Later in the drive, Kentucky would find the end zone as Wilson hit Hayes on an eight-yard pass. UK would attempt a two-point conversion to the game, but Wilson would throw incomplete as Auburn maintained a 15-13 lead.
The third quarter would come to an end with Auburn facing a second and five from their own 47-yard line.
Score After Third Quarter: Auburn 15, Kentucky 13
The first play of the fourth quarter saw Josh Paschal make a nine-yard tackle for loss on a botched snap, which helped lead to a Tigers punt two plays later.
On their ensuing possession, Wilson made a massive mistake on third down as he fumbled on a rushing attempt and Auburn’s Jamien Sherwood fell on it and returned it for seven yards to the UK 30-yard line. Auburn would take full advantage of the turnover as Nix found S. Williams in the end zone for four-yards to put the Tigers on top 22-13.
Things would go from bad to worse for UK on their ensuing possession as after a three and out, Duffy was tackled for a three-yard loss on a fake punt attempt. This would set up Auburn with a short field in which they took full advantage of as Nix hit Stove for a 21-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers on top 29-13.
After both teams exchanged punts, Kentucky drove down the field late, highlighted by a pair of Wilson passes to Ali that went for a combined 28 yards to the Auburn 16-yard line. The drive would come to an end prematurely, however, as DeMarcus Harris fumbled at the Tigers 10-yard line and Owen Pappoe recovered it, giving Auburn possession with under two minutes to play.
Final Score: Auburn 29, Kentucky 13
MVP: Seth Williams
The Wildcats had no answer for Auburn’s wide receiver Seth Williams. The 6-foot-3 wideout made six catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns to guide the Tigers to victory.
HONORABLE MENTION: Bo Nix
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix proved why he was named the SEC Freshman of the year as he threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns, did not turn the ball over and even punted twice for an average of 38.5 yards, pinning the Wildcats inside their own 10-yard line twice.
Photo: UK Athletics