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Strong 2nd Half Propels Kentucky to Victory; Kentucky 28 EKU 17

Ray Davis - photo by Brendon D. Miller - Bluegrass Sports Nation

LEXINGTON – September 9, 2023 – Matthew Hudson

In what turned out to be a very cool and cloudy day in Lexington the University of Kentucky Wildcats are home once again to face their in state rival the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. It was a very eventful time at Kroger Field as this game served as the program’s annual Heroes Day for military, law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services and government employees. It also served as Youth Sports and Activities Day, Kentucky Cheer Youth Day and Kentucky Dance Da

Kentucky was able to weather a sluggish start and a few miscues to go into the half tied up 7-7. The 2nd half started off much like the first as EKU wasted no time driving deep into UK territory and scoring, this time with a 21-yard field goal to take the lead 10-7. Kentucky’s offense finally started to get their rhythm in the 3rd quarter. The Wildcats were able to amass 142 yards of offense and outscore the Colonels 14-3 in the 3rd. Kentucky kept the momentum rolling in the 4th quarter, while they only managed to put up 7 points in the quarter then controlled the ball for over 9 minutes to take control of the game.

Devin Leary had another slow start this week but finished with a strong 2nd half. Leary finished the game 24-38 with 299 yards passing and 4 TDs. Tayvion Robinson came up huge for the Wildcats with 6 catches for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Kentucky Defense had its fair share of problems today dealing with the Eastern Kentucky Offense. The defense allowed over 300 total yards to the EKU offense but showed up when it mattered the most, allowing only 29 yards of offense in the 4th quarter.

Kentucky’s next game will be against the Akron Zips from the MAC Conference. The game is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 at Kroger Field.

Game Summary

1st Quarter

The EKU Defense comes out strong and forces a quick 3 and out by UK on the first drive. EKU makes an outstanding special teams play to block the punt attempt, getting the ball on the UK 30-yard line. EKU is able capitalize on the great field position and draws first blood on a 14-yard run by QB Parker McKinney. UK marched back down the field but stalls out just into EKU territory, a big sack by EKU on 4th Down gave the ball back to EKU on the EKU 45.

2nd Quarter

Big play by the Kentucky defense to start the 2nd, forced fumble by Trevin Wallace and recovery by Alex Afari Jr. at the EKU 24-yard line gave the UK Offense great field position to work with. EKU responded with an Interception by Frank Lee at the EKU 39. What turned out to be a turnover heavy game continued as EKU’s Parker McKinney was Intercepted by Maxwell Hairston on the UK 4 yard line. EKU was able to drive deep into the UK territory where they attempted a 48-yard FG. The kick was on target but came up a few feet short. Wilson Berry was a bright spot for UK as his punts were able to pin the EKU offense deep into their own territory on the 13, the 12, and the 3-yard lines. With 48 seconds left before the half Barion Brown broke a big punt return and returned it to the EKU 24. Kentucky immediately took advantage with a big 24-yard touchdown strike by Devin Leary to Tayvion Robinson.

3rd Quarter

EKU received the kickoff to start the 2nd half. EKU with a well-balanced drive was able to take it all the way down to the UK 4-yard line before the Kentucky defense was able slow them down. EKU’s Patrick Nations connected on the 21-yard FG attempt, giving EKU the 10-7 lead with 9:41 left in the 3rd. Kentucky was able to respond with their best drive of the day, a 9 play 72-yard drive capped off by a 6 yard Devin Leary completion to Tayvion Robinson. Tayvion Robinson got hot, breaking free for a 56 yard gain all the way down to the EKU 30. Kentucky was able to polish off the drive with a 13-yard TD pass from Devin Leary to Barion Brown.

4th Quarter

EKU wouldn’t go down without a fight, putting together their longest drive of the day, a 9 play 75 yard well balanced attack. The drive was capped off with a 9-yard pass from Parker McKinney to Braedon Slone. UK was able to respond with a long drive of their own to match EKU’s touchdown with another passing TD by Leary, this time to Ray Davis on a 24-yard wheel route. Kentucky stretched out the lead to 28-17, this turned out to be enough as the Kentucky defense stepped up and held EKU’s offense in check the last few minutes of the game.  

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