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Wildcats Fumble Third Game in a Row

Lexington, Ky – October 28, 2023 – Michael Willis

Kroger Field was packed for the SEC matchup between Kentucky and their rival to the south, Tennessee. Both teams needed a win today to give them bowl eligibility and it appeared early on that Tennessee wanted it more than the Wildcats. The Vols scored the first ten points of the game and though Kentucky pulled back within two points, Tennessee took the victory 33 to 27.

The Volunteers stopped the Wildcats on the Cat’s first possession and wasted no time scoring their first touchdown of the night on a 52-yard rush. The Wildcats finally started showing some life on their third possession when Devin Leary connected with Wesley Walker for a 22-yard pass, but back-to-back false start penalties pushed the Cats back. The Wildcats had to settle for a field goal for their first points of the game.

The Wildcats looked better on both sides of the ball the rest of the second quarter. The passing in the second quarter set up two touchdowns that pulled the Cats with in a field goal. Devin Leary was 13-17 in the first half with 175 yards. Leary also completed passes to seven different receivers in the first half.

The offense continued to play well in the second half, however the defense could not get a stop when they needed it the most. Kentucky really struggled against the running offense tonight. Tennessee rushed for 254 yards, which was primarily gained by Jaylen Wright. Wright had 120 total rushing yards and averaged 10.9 yards per carry. It felt like if the defense could have stopped the Vols one more time the offense could’ve pulled ahead of the Vols.

Devin Leary ended the game with 372 passing yards completing 28 of his 38 passes. It was the best game of the season for Dane Key who caught 7 of his 8 targets for 113 yards. Ray Davis struggled against the Tennessee defense and only gained 42 yards on his 16 rushing attempts.

Mark Stoops said in the post-game interview, “I am disappointed that myself and the coaches couldn’t find a few more plays to pull off the victory.” That is how the fans felt too. If a play here or there would’ve gone our way, especially of defense, the game might have had a different outcome. 

Kentucky now has a 5-3 record and the road ahead will not be easy to pick up the sixth win to become bowl eligible. Kentucky has to win against Mississippi State, Alabama, South Carolina, or Louisville if they want to play in the post-season. The Wildcats retake the field at Miss. State on Nov. 4th at 7:30 pm in perhaps their best chance to get one last win.

Game Summary:

1st Quarter:

Tennessee won the coin toss and deferred the football. Kentucky’s first possession ended on a punt a yard short of the first down marker. Tennessee scored on their 5th play of the game on a 52-yard rush by Jaylen Wright [UK 0 Tenn 7] Tennessee scored once again on a 44-yard field goal on their second possession. [UK 0 Tenn 10]

2nd Quarter:

Kentucky gets on the score board on a 28-yard field goal by Alex Raynor. [UK 3 Tenn 10] Tennessee settles for a 49-yard field goal. [UK 3 Tenn 13] Kentucky connects on a 11-yard pass from Devin Leary to Barion Brown for the Wildcats first touchdown. [UK 10 Tenn 13] Tennesse followed with a touchdown in only 1:24 with a 39-yard pass to Chas Nimrod. [UK 10 Tenn 20] The Wildcats added another touchdown on a 7-yard rush by Ray Davis. [UK 17 Tenn 20] Tennessee added one last field goal to end the half. [UK 17 Tenn 23]

3rd Quarter:

Tennessee makes another field goal for the first score of the second half. [UK 17 Tenn 26] Kentucky followed Tennessee’s score with a touchdown on a 7-yard pass to Dane Key. [UK 24 Tenn 26]

4th Quarter:

Tennessee scores the first touchdown of the fourth quarter with a rushing touchdown by Dylan Sampson. [UK 24 Tenn 33] Kentucky scores another field goal to give them a little hope with 4:24 left in the game. [UK 27 Tenn 33]

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