The Kentucky Wildcats (4-6) ended the 2020 regular season on a high note as they dominated the South Carolina Gamecocks (2-8) to pickup a 41-18 win on Senior Night at Kroger Field.
Here’s a recap of all the action:
Kentucky won the opening toss and elected to defer and put the South Carolina offense on the field. South Carolina quickly picked up a first down as quarterback Luke Doty scrambled for five yards and running back Kevin Harris picked up seven yards on the next play to move to their own 37-yard line. They’d move across midfield two plays later as Harris ran for 20 yards to the UK 43-yard line. The Gamecocks would soon move inside the UK 20-yard line where a holding penalty on South Carolina’s Josh Vann negated a Doty touchdown pass to Shi Smith on South Carolina. The penalty would prove costly as Parker White missed a 38-yard field goal wide right, giving UK the ball at their own 20-yard line.
The first Wildcat drive got off to a hot start as Terry Wilson ran for 14-yards and a first down. Two plays later, UK would move into South Carolina territory as A.J. Rose ran for a 26-yard gain to the Gamecocks 32-yard line. Later in the drive, Kentucky faced a fourth and three from the Gamecock 25-yard line. Mark Stoops’ call would payoff as Wilson found Josh Ali for a 16-yard gain. Despite the conversion, the UK would not be able to find the end zone as they settled for a 22-yard Matt Ruffolo.
Kentucky would quickly cash in off the turnover as Rose ran 25-yards to the one-yard line and on the next play, Chris Rodriguez punched in a one-yard score to put UK up 10-0.
The Gamecocks would get a boost from their special teams unit after the touchdown. After an Austin Dotson unsportsmanlike conduct foul forced the UK to kick off from the 50-yard line, South Carolina’s Dakereon Joyner would take advantage as he returned Chance Poore‘s kickoff 52-yards to the UK 40-yard line. South Carolina would move inside the Cats’ 30-yard line, but Josh Paschal took down Doty for a five-yard loss forcing the Gamecocks to settle for a 47-yard Parker White Field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.
UK’s next drive would begin at their own 11-yard line after Travis Tisdale bobbled the kickoff at the four-yard line and returned it just seven yards to the 11. The quarter would come to an end with Kentucky facing a third and 19 from their own 14-yard line after a DeMarcus Harris unsportsmanlike conduct foul pushed them back 10-yards.
Score After First Quarter: Kentucky 10, South Carolina, 3
The second quarter began with a 10-yard Wilson run that was well short of a first down, forcing a Max Duffy punt which sailed 51-yards to the Gamecocks 24-yard line.
South Carolina’s next drive would result in a quick three and out as Kai Kroeger punted 47-yards to the UK 19-yard line.
Kentucky’s ensuing possession got off to a quick start as Wilson found Justin Rigg for 36-yards to the Gamecock 45-yard line. Three-plays later, Wilson would again find Rigg as the tight end made a 21-yard grab, which would set up an eight-yard Rose touchdown run on the next play to extend the UK lead to 17-3. With the touchdown run, Rose moved into 10th place in school history for career rushing yards.
Looking to chip into the UK lead, South Carolina’s offense began to generate momentum as Doty found Harris for 17-yards to move the Gamecocks to the Kentucky 48-yard line. Doty’s mistake would kill that momentum three plays later as Kentucky’s Yusuf Corker picked off the freshman at the UK 36-yard line to give possession back to the Wildcats.
The Kentucky offense would be unable to cash in the turnover as they’d be forced to punt after Wilson was stopped short on third down at the Gamecock 47-yard line.
Kentucky’s defense would again force a three and out on the ensuing South Carolina possession as Jamin Davis dragged down Harris for a loss on third and one.
UK would start their next drive at the South Carolina 39-yard line after the Gamecocks were called for kick catch interference after Zaquandre White hit Ali while he was signaling for a fair catch. Kentucky would quickly take advantage as a 17-yard run by Rodriguez moved the Wildcats inside the Gamecock 10-yard line and three plays later found the end zone on a two-yard run to extend the UK lead to 24-3.
Kentucky’s defense would force yet another turnover before the half as Doty lost control of the ball while on the run and Wright was able to recover his second fumble of the game at the South Carolina 33-yard line with 42 seconds left in the half. With less than a minute to work with, UK took five shots at the end zone but were unable to convert on any of them as they settled for a 41-yard Ruffolo field goal to give UK a 27-3 lead.
Halftime Score: Kentucky 27, South Carolina, 3
Kentucky opened the second half with possession and quickly picked up a third conversion as Wilson found Allen Dailey Jr. for 10-yards to convert on third and eight. They’d move across midfield three plays later as Wilson found Rigg for 15-yards to the Gamecock 36-yard line. From there, UK would move their run game to drive down to the goal line where Wilson would use his legs to run in a one-yard touchdown and extend the Wildcat lead to 34-3.
Looking to chip into the UK lead, South Carolina’s offense picked up a chunk play on their first drive as the half as Harris picked up 33-yards to move the Gamecocks to their own 47-yard line. The Gamecocks would ride Harris into the red zone where he would score a 15-yard touchdown to trim the Kentucky lead to 34-10.
On their next drive, UK would pick up a first down with Wilson using his legs but would be unable to do anything else as the Gamecocks forced a punt.
South Carolina would get another big play from Harris on their ensuing possession as he started the drive with a 59-yard run to the UK 27 yard-line. The third quarter would come to the close with a Rashad Amos seven-yard run to the 19-yard line that would be pushed back 15-yards after South Carolina’s Rico Powers was called for a personal foul.
Score After Third Quarter: Kentucky 34, South Carolina, 10
The fourth quarter would begin with a missed 51-yard Parker White field goal giving UK possession at their own 34-yard line.
UK would quickly drive into South Carolina territory after the missed kick as Wilson hit Dailey for 14-yards with 15 additional yards tacked on after Jammie Robinson was called for targeting. The drive would stall at the South Carolina 28-yard line, however, as the Gamecocks stopped Wilson on a fourth and one to turn the Wildcats over on down.
South Carolina’s offense would not be able to take advantage of their defense’s efforts as they went three and out and punted back to Kentucky with 11:16 to play.
Looking to chew clock and extend their lead, UK kept the ball on the ground after the punt as Rose ran for 15 yards and JuTahn McClain ran for six to move the Wildcats to their own 44-yard line. The drive would stall, however, as Duffy punted back to South Carolina with 8:39 to play.
The Gamecocks would start their next drive fast as Amos ran for 18-yards moving South Carolina to their own 28-yard line. It appeared the drive had come to an end three plays later, but South Carolina perfectly executed a fake punt as the punter Kroeger connected with Joyner for 22-yards to the UK 47-yard line. Shortly after the fake, the Gamecocks would find the end zone as Doty found Joyner for a 30-yard touchdown. The Gamecocks would successfully convert a two-point conversion as Doty found Nick Muse to cut the lead to 34-18.
With South Carolina within two possessions, Rodriguez helped put the game away on Kentucky’s ensuing possession as he escaped into the Gamecock territory for a career-long 79-yard touchdown run to give the Cats a 41-18 lead with 4:56 to play.
Down three scores, South Carolina was able to convert on a fourth and two on their next drive as Doty hit Joyner for five-yards. The Gamecocks would move to midfield, where former five-star recruit Justin Rogers picked up his first sack of his college career with the Wildcats moving South Carolina back into their own territory with 2:43 to play. The Gamecocks would drive into the red zone, but with just over a minute to play, Jamar “Boogie” Watson forced a Joyner fumble that Kentucky’s Kordell Looney recovered seal the deal for Kentucky.
Final Score: Kentucky 41, South Carolina, 18
MVP: Chris Rodriguez
In his return from a two-week absence due to what is believed to have been COVID-19 protocol, Chris Rodriguez made his presence ran
HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Harris
Despite the loss, South Carolina Kevin Harris put together an incredible performance as he ran for 210 yards and a touchdown against the Wildcat defense.