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Slow and Steady Won the Race; Kentucky 44 Ball St. 14

Barion Brown returns Kickoff 99 yards for score

LEXINGTON – September 2, 2023 – Michael Willis

It was perfect weather for football as Kentucky opened its season against the Ball State Cardinals. The Big Blue Nation were excited to see how this year’s Wildcats were perform, especially on the offensive side of the ball with the transfer additions of QB Devin Leary and RB Ray Davis. The excitement could be felt from the Cat Walk to the opening kick-off by both the fans and the players. Kentucky cruised to a 44 to 14 victory, but the victory was as easy or pretty as fans would have liked.

The opening play of the game had the fans on their feet after 44-yard pass to Dane Key, however that would be the only excitement for Cat fans in the first quarter. The Wildcats settled for a field goal while Ball State scored a touchdown to gain the early lead and take the wind out of the sails of the Cats. Even when the Wildcats scored their first touchdown early in the 2nd quarter, Ball State did not make it easy for Kentucky. It took the Cats five plays within the 4-yard line to score.

The underwhelming first quarter was quickly forgotten when a 69-yard fumble return touchdown by Jalen Geiger sparked the defense early in the second quarter. The defense responded with another fumble return that should have been another touchdown, however, the officials blew the play dead canceling the touchdown. The Wildcats scored 20 points in the second quarter to gain a 16-point lead. Perhaps the most thrilling play was a 99-yard kick-off return by Barion Brown late in the third quarter that ended any hopes of a Ball State comeback.

Devin Leary had subpar first half completing only 8 of his first 20 passes, but he turned it around in the second half completing 10 of his 11 passes. Leary ended the game with 241 passing yards completing 18 of his 31 passes.

Running back Ray Davis scored two touchdowns and gained 112 yards on his 14 carries. Post game Davis gave all the credit to the offensive line for his success on the field and praised the fans for helping getting them going in the second half.

Trevin Wallace was the leading tackler of the game with 12 tackles and was credited with .5 sacks. Mark Stoops bragged on Wallace’s performance post-game stating that he plays from “sideline to sideline”.

Kentucky’s next game with be their neighbor from the south as Eastern Kentucky University will make the 20-minute drive to Kroger Field to face the Wildcats. Game time is set for 3 PM.

Game Summary:

1st Quarter:

The Wildcats won the coin toss and elected to receive the football. The first pass of the game was a 44-yard reception by Dane Key, but the drive ended with a 41-yard field goal by Alex Raynor. Ball State scored the first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Layne Hatcher and put the Cardinals up 7 to 3.

2nd Quarter:

The Wildcats scored their first touchdown of the season on a 2-yard rush by Ray Davis putting the Cats back in the lead 10 to 7. The Wildcat Defense scored the 2nd touchdown of the quarter after a 69-yard fumble return touchdown by Jalen Geiger 17 to 7. Another fumble recovery touchdown was called back due to a missed call the officals. However, the Cats were able to keep the ball after the play was overturned. The drive ended with a 46-yard field goal by Alex Raynor to increase the Cats lead 20 to 7. Alex Raynor made another 46-yard field to end the half 23 to 7.

3rd Quarter

With 6:43 left in the 3rd quarter Kentucky scored another touchdown on a 6-yard pass to Dane Key to give the Wildcats a 30 to 7 lead. Ball State scored a touchdown with a 5-yard touchdown pass. On the the following kick-off Barion Brown scores a 99-yard touchdown. The score at the end of the third was 37 to 14 with UK on top.

4th Quarter

The last score of the game was a 30-yard touchdown rush by Ray Davis to end the game Kentucky 44 Ball State 14.

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