CATS Get Second MAC Win, Open SEC Next Week in Nashville
LEXINGTON – September 16, 2023 – Michael Willis
Kentucky’s matchup against the Akron Zips was the Cats third home game in as many weeks. After the slow starts in the Ball State and EKU games, the Big Blue Nation were looking to see some offensive production early in the game to oppose the slow starts in the previous games. It appeared that the players were also wanting better production and gained 39 yards on the opening play of the game. That set the Cats up for a touchdown with only 4:26 ticking off the game clock. Kentucky’s defense started the game with much more focus than the past couple games resulting in a there and out on Akron’s first possession.
However, after the inspiring start, the Cats seemed unable to keep the ball moving on the offense and didn’t score again until 8 seconds left in the second quarter. Despite the low scoring, Devin Leary completed 14-16 passes for 208 yards. The yards and completions just didn’t translate into points on the scoreboard. Kentucky forfeited both a touchdown by fumbling the ball and a field goal by a pre-snap penalty that pushed the ball back out of field goal range.
Penalties and turnovers cost UK once again to begin the third quarter, when a 65-yard touchdown was brought back due to a holding penalty. On the next play Devin Leary threw an interception. Kentucky ended the game with 2 turnovers while forcing one. Despite the errors, Kentucky defeated Akron handedly 35-3.
The 32-point victory looks better on paper than it did on the field. Kentucky missed many opportunities to score that could have a 40+ point margin. Liam Coen spoke specifically about the interception, stating “It was the right place to go with the football. Right time. Right place. Wide open and we didn’t execute.”
Devin Leary ended the night with 315 yards passing, completing 16 of his 26 passes with 3 touchdown passes. Ray Davis, however, was the player of the game with 72 yards rushing, 97 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns.
Defensively the Wildcats obviously did very well by holding Akron to only three points. Mark Stoops called it the best defensive performance in a long time. Trevin Wallace continues to impress with 5 tackles and 2 sacks. As a team Kentucky only allowed 49 rushing yards by Akron. The three points that Akron scored was after an interception gave them great field position to set up the field goal.
Kentucky will travel down to Nashville next week to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in a noon kickoff. Perhaps we will get a glimpse of how the rest of the season will go once the Cats face a SEC opponent.
Kentucky won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball. The opening play of the game was a 39-yard pass to Ray Davis that set the Wildcats up for a touchdown pass to Josh Kattus to give the Cats an early 7-0 lead. After being forced to punt on their following possession the Wildcats forced a fumble on the punt return and retook the possession.
A 59-yard reception by Jordan Dingle was quickly reversed as he fumbled it into the endzone and recovered by Akron. The Wildcats score a touchdown with 8 seconds left in the half with a 22-yard pass from Devin Leary to Tayvion Robinson putting the Cats up 14-0.
A 65-yard touchdown pass by Kentucky was brought back after a holding call on the offensive line. Devin Leary threw an interception that gave the ball back to Akron. Akron made good on the great field position and made a field goal with 3:27 left in the third pulling closer to the Cats 14 to 3. The Wildcats responded quickly with a 58-yard touchdown reception to Ray Davis giving UK a 21 to 3 lead.
Ray Davis made his presence felt once again on a 55-yard rush for a touchdown. Kentucky 28 Akron 3. The last score of the game was a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Demie Sumo-Karngbaye for a final score of Kentucky 35 Akron 3.
Kentucky travels to Vanderbilt next Saturday for a Noon ET kick.