Around this same time last year I shared to Steem about getting to experience something for the first time in my life. That special first time event was watching my Kentucky Wildcats beat the Florida Gators in college football. It was the first time in 31 years that the Cats were able to accomplish the feat. The question this year was if the Cats would be able to replicate that success?
The game started with the Gators receiving the ball. Their first drive pushed them to the goal line but the Cats were saved when Tyrell Ajian picked off Felipe Franks to save the Cats from giving up points on the first drive. This led to the Cats starting a drive back on the 25 only for Sawyer Smith to fumble the ball and not drop down on it leading to the the second turnover in the game in less than three and a half minutes.
Florida would recover that snap letting them start back on the UK 31 yard line. After Florida pushes up to the goal Yusuf Corker would be called for targeting leading to him being ejected from the game and being replaced by freshman Taj Dodson. Lining up with a bit less than 7 minutes Franks hit Freddie Swain giving the Gators the first points of the game. This was eerily to past Florida losses when the Cats allowed open receivers to walk right in for scores.
Lynn Bowden returned the kick to the 21 yard line to start the Kentucky drive in the bottom of the first. After taking a flag and sack the Cats line up for a 3rd and 21 when Sawyer Smith linked up with Ahmad Wagner for an amazing catching giving the Cats a first down and more room to setup. After another set of downs lining up on the third Smith then connects with Josh Ali to refresh the downs. This would more or less end the first quarter but the 2nd starts off with a huge TD catch from Wagner to tie the score back up at 7. The catch was magnificent and was reviewed to truly be a touchdown after calls that the ball hit the ground first.
After a long pass down the field Franks ends up fumbling the ball from a stripe by UK's Kordell Looney that was recovered by the freshman Dodson. After a couple completions to receivers Justin Rigg and Drew Schlegel as well as a carry by Smoke the Cats would end up letting Smith keep the ball on a sneak play into the end zone. The Wildcats are now in front 14 - 7.
Florida would end up taking the ball back on the 25 and pushing up the field with relative ease. After it looked like Florida QB Franks would end up tying the score back after a 21 yard run the refs pulled it back on a holding call. That ended up leading to a big stop forcing the Gators to bring in the kicking team. The unfortunate part for the Gators is that the kick wouldn't make it through the uprights giving the Cats the ball on the 20. This is more or less where the half would end.
Kentucky would take over the ball to start the second. After a nice pace to Rigg up field followed by a 21 yard run by Rose the Cats were looking well positioned to push harder against the Gators. That was until a holding call against Darian Kinnard pushed UK in the a 1st and 20 situation. After a poor decision to throw off one foot Sawyer Smith throws an interception to Davis who returned for 72 yards. Impressively enough it was Smith who tracked him down for the tackle but seemed to have hurt his wrist on the take down.
The Gators were called for offensive pass interference which started to set them back a bit. That would be followed up by a couple heads up plays by Brandin Echols that honestly saved a touchdown for the Wildcats. Regardless the Gators would pick up 3 after a 33 yard field goal by Evan McPherson running the score to 14 - 10 with 7 minutes left in the third.
The Cats would set the tone for the following drive with a couple quick rushes from Kavosiey Smoke. That set up another 20+ yard pickup for Wagner. With the play that Wagner pulls in Florida's Donovan Stiner is ejected for targeting Wagner with his helmet down. This finalized with a 13 yard touchdown pass to Keaton Upshaw to give the cats a 21 - 10 lead with only a little over 5 minutes left remaining in the 3rd.
The Cats would be called for a roughing the passer moving the Gators up the field. This would cumulate to a 4th down for the Gators at 4th and 1. They decided to end up going for it but on the play their QB Franks would end up going down with a bad leg injury. He would be replaced by backup Kyle Trask.
The Cats would take over moving into the 4th but wouldn't up converting anything from it. On a few quick plays on the opposite side the Gators backup QB Trask had moved the ball up the field to the Wilcats 20 eating through the Cats defense. Then we lost freshman safety Taj Dodson to an injury to be replaced by Moses Douglass of the third string. After play resumed it didn't take long for Trask to target Florida Perine to give the Gators a touchdown. They'd go on to attempt a 2pt conversion but would not end up converting.
The Cats would be unable to do anything productive with the ball and would be forced to punt it away. The punt was honestly the most exciting part of the possession when Max Duffy booted it for 63 yards. The Gators would move down the field a bit but would up booting it away to the Cats. When the Cats took over Smith ends up throwing his second pick to Shawn Davis.
Gators took over and the UK defense was holding up strong until a bogus targeting call against TJ Carter had him ejected from the game as well. The rest of the game will be played with 4 1st or 2nd team defenders out of the game. Trask would end up passing for 30 yards and then running the ball in himself untouched giving the Gators a 22-21 lead in the 4th with a little over 4 minutes remaining. Trask would again attempt a 2pt conversion with no success.
UK would end up pushing up field with success especially after drawing a pass interference call when attempting to hit Wagner. The Cats missed a few opportunities and fall to a 4th and 1. Stoops made the call to bring in Chance Poole to take the 35 yard field goal attempt to bring the Cats above. Unfortunately his attempt would be just a hair to far right and the Cats would turn the ball over to the Gators with a little less than a minute remaining.
The Gators took over but the Cats defense was holding strong. They started with a few excellent stops that kept the clock on hold. The 3rd didn't go at all like I had hoped when Florida ran a reversal that allowed Josh Hammond to rush for 76 yards to score yet another touchdown cementing their lead to 29 to 21.
The Cats would attempt to push up field but there would be nothing of it. The Florida Gators closed the game out defeating the Kentucky Wildcats with the final score of 29 - 21.
The Wildcats will go on to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs next weekend at 4pm on the road. You'll be able to catch that game on SEC Network.