Kentucky Defeats Northern Illinois 31-23 and stays undefeated.
LEXINGTON – September 24, 2022 – David Leveridge- Bluegrass Sports Nation
The #8 ranked Kentucky Football team continued the 2022 season hosting the Northern Illinois University Huskies. Kentucky is now 4-0 on the season with a 31-23 victory, however this wasn’t Kentucky’s Best performance of the season as the Huskies kept the game closer than expected and the UK defense allowed the most points scored of the season. Quarterback Will Levis continued to put up good numbers with 303 passing yards and four touchdowns, but his stats were a little misleading. Levis had two players Barion Brown and Tayvion Robinson combine for two hundred and forty- nine yards receiving and one hundred and eighty-six yards after the catch. Levis was also sacked five times for a loss of twenty- one yards of offense.
1st Quarter- Northern Illinois received the opening kickoff and found the endzone an eleven play seventy-five yard and finished the drive with with a two-yard passing touchdown from QB Ethan Hampton to WR Tristian Trewes. The score was the first scoring possession the Kentucky defense has allowed in six quarters of play, and the UK defense wasn’t sharp on the first series of the game. Kentucky received the kickoff and capitalized with a scoring possession of their own with QB Will Levis finding Dorian Brown open in the secondary for a fifteen-yard passing Touchdown. At the end of the first quarter Kentucky and NIU were tied at seven.
2nd Quarter- The Kentucky offense found the endzone once in the quarter. Kentucky received a punt on the Kentucky two-yard line and had ninety- eight yards of field to score the ball. Kentucky moved the ball quickly down field and finished the possession with Levis finding Tayvion Robinson with a pass down the middle and just beyond the reach of the NIU secondary. Levis completed the pass and Robinson had space on his defender. Sixty-nine yards later Robinson scored, and UK took the lead for the first time in the game. Kentucky defense forced NIU into a three and out. UK running back Kaviosey Smoke broke into the NIU secondary but fumbled the ball at the Kentucky thirty- four- yard line and was recovered by NIU. NIU turned the UK turnover into points as the half was about to end with a trick play going from the QB Hampton to WR Shermar Thornton who found WR Teweres uncovered in the end zone and tied the game at fourteen with the score Kentucky 14- NIU 14.
3rd Quarter- Kentucky received the kick to open the second half and scored on a seventy- yard pass play Levis to Brown. The play before Levis passed for the phenomenal touchdown throw and catch, Levis appeared to throw an interception but was called an incomplete pass by the lead referee. Kentucky and the Air Raid offense caught NIU off guard with single coverage on the Speedy Robinson. The Kentucky offense striked quick and led NIU 21-14 with less than a minute off the clock to open the second half. The Kentucky defense stepped up and NIU into a three and out, getting the ball in good field position. Kentucky was able to add one more score in the quarter with the leg of kicker Matt Ruffolo. Ruffolo split the uprights with a career long kick of forty- nine yards and extended the Kentucky lead to ten points. Kentucky led NIU 24- 14 at the end of third quarter.
4th Quarter- Kentucky jumped out to a seventeen-point lead early in the quarter and felt confident their late lead was enough to sustain an easy win, but the Huskies scored with nine unanswered points cutting the Kentucky lead to eight points. On the first scoring possession of the quarter Levis found Robinson downfield for a forty-yard passing touchdown and UK led NIU 31-14. The drive completed an eleven play seventy- eight- yard drive. NIU would not give up and put together a seven play fifty- five- yard drive with that only took three minutes of time to score. The NIU Huskies nearly scored on the second play of the series when QB Hampton completed a sixty- three- yard pass to WR Kacper Ruthkiewcz but was brought down at the Kentucky five- yard line. FG Kicker Justin Lynch completed the drive with a thirty- eight-yard FG. The Kentucky offense was ineffective on the next offensive possession and NIU was able to put another good drive together capped of by a two-yard QB Keeper by QB Justin Lynch. NIU went for the onside kick but was retrieved by Kentucky. A couple of kneel downs later by QB Levis and UK escaped Kroger Field with a hard fought 31-23 victory over NIU.
- Kentucky 31 / Northern Illinois 23
- Total Yards 406 / 327
- Passing Yards 303 / 199
- Rushing Yards 103 / 128
- First Downs 18 / 13
- Time of Poss 33.49 / 26.11
Player Stats Kentucky:
- Will Levis 18 completions on 26 attempts, 303 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, sacked 5 times for a loss of twenty-one yards, long passing play 70 yards.
- Kavosiey Smoke 12 rushing attempts, gaining 85 yards, long run of 27 yards, avg per run7.1
- Tayvion Robinson 7 receptions for 149 yards, 2 TD, Long Reception 69 yards, AVG yards per catch 21 yards, Yards after Catch 107.
- Barion Brown 4 receptions for 102 yards, 2 TD, Long reception 70 yards, AVG yards per catch 25.2 Yards after Catch 76 yards.
- Dane Key 2 receptions for 15 yards, Long Catch 9 yards, Avg yards per catch 7.5
Kentucky is now undefeated on the season ranked #8 in the Polls and excitement for the CATS is at an all time high. Next Week Kentucky will resume SEC play on the road playing the Ole Miss Running Rebels with a noon kickoff. Next week Chris Rodriguez is expected to return from his four- game suspension and will be a much-needed addition to the Kentucky offense.