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Kentucky Makes Statement in SEC Home Opener; Kentucky 33 – Florida 14

Photo by: Brendon Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

Lexington, Ky – September 30, 2023 – Matthew Hudson

The Kentucky Wildcats came home to Kroger field looking to keep their undefeated season intact. A beautiful day and packed-out house Kroger Field gave the Wildcats a perfect scenario to make a statement in their first SEC home game of the season. Kentucky came out fast and before Florida knew what happened the Wildcats were up 23-0. This one was never in doubt after the 1st quarter.

Kentucky set the tone early with the running game and jumped out to the quick lead. Kentucky’s defense was relentless with their QB pressure and would never allow Florida to get into a rhythm. With what turned out to be the best all around game Kentucky has put together this year so far, they were able to lead the game throughout and truly make a statement. Kentucky Football is not just able to compete in the SEC but may be one of its best teams.

After a couple of strong games from Devin Leary the expectations were high coming into the game. It turned out to be a rough day for Leary as he finished 9-20 with 69 yards passing and 1 TD.

Ray Davis had a career day. Finishing with 26 rushing attempts for 280 yards rushing, 9 yards receiving, 3 rushing TDs, and 1 receiving TD.

Kentucky’s Defense was strong all game. While they did allow over 300 total yards to the Gator Offense, they held them when it mattered the most, holding Florida to just 14 points in the game. Kentucky was led by reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Maxwell Hairston with 10 tackles.

1st Quarter

Kentucky was able to score first, moving the ball well behind the strong running of Ray Davis. After what would have been a TD reception was dropped by Barion Brown, UK settled for the 24-yard FG by Alex Raynor. Kentucky up 3-0.

UK Defense standout Trevin Wallace stepped up and got the interception on Graham Mertz. Wallace was able to return the INT to the FLA 15-yard line.

The Wildcats capitalized on their great field position, Devin Leary was able to connect with Ray Davis for a 9-yard TD reception. UKs lead swells to 10-0.

After 3 quick incompletions on their own 10-yard line UK had to punt, Florida was charged with a Leaping Penalty on the punt and gave Kentucky new life. The next play Ray Davis broke a 75-yard TD run, his career long, to put Kentucky up 16-0.

2nd Quarter

UK’s offense was putting on a clinic in the 1st half, a 7 play, 80-yard drive by the Wildcats was topped off with yet another Ray Davis TD run. Davis set his new career high of 206 yards for a game in the 1st half. Kentucky 23 – Florida 0.

The Florida Gators were able to get on the board just before the 2nd half. Florida put together a 6 play-75-yard drive, the drive was capped off by a 4-yard TD pass from Graham Mertz to Hayden Hansen. Score UK 23 – Florida 7.

 3rd Quarter

Kentucky came out and picked up where they left off.  An 8 play, 68-yard drive finished off by Ray Davis’s 3rd rushing TD of the game gave UK the 30-7 lead with 10:54 left in the 3rd.

Florida’s Offense finally figured out their rhythm, using only 3:37 of the clock Florida was able to answer back with a TD drive of their own. 33-yard TD pass from Graham Mertz to Ricky Pearsall made it UK 30 – UF 14.

4th Quarter Kentucky tacked on a field goal with 7:44 left in the 4th quarter. The game was now a 3-score game and gave the Wildcats a little more breathing room for the final stretch. Alex Raynor for a 50-yard FG put Kentucky up 33-14.

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