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Kentucky Football

Unforced Errors Spell Doom for the Cats in Gainesville

November 28, 2020
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Kentucky came out to a solid start, finding yards before punting on the first drive. Florida drew blood first, but Kentucky put together a great first quarter, and played well deep into the second quarter, leading 10-7 at one point. Things unraveled after a bad punt at the end of the first half, and the punctured momentum going into the locker room fully deflated by the time the second half began. Penalty upon penalty destroyed any chance the Wildcats had at staying in the game, and Florida just had to hold onto the ball and capitalize on Kentucky’s mistakes to ensure a runaway victory. 

The offense, once again missing Chris Rodriguez, looked good at times but fell apart in the second half, gaining only 46 yards in the last two quarters. Wilson finished the day 12 of 18 for 62 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Josh Ali totaled six receptions, but only netted 32 receiving yards. The run game was sorely lacking without Rodriguez, with Rose netting 58 yards and Smoke 47. 

The defense did a great job in the first half of taking advantage of some weaknesses on Florida’s side of the ball. They slowed down Trask’s passing attack, but couldn’t keep it up as Kyle Pitts could beat anyone and everyone on the field. Yusuf Corker led the way with eight tackles while Jordan Wright and Boogie Watson split the only sack of the day. 

Special teams was once again a sore spot for the Cats as a bad punt by Duffy into even poorer coverage allowed Florida to score on the return by Toney. 

 

First Quarter

Kentucky received the opening kickoff and found some rhythm on offense early. AJ Rose had a big 17 yard run to jumpstart the offense on the second play of the drive, and the Cats kept moving past midfield and into Florida territory. The Cats were held up then, bringing up 4th and 3 at the Florida 31 yard line, where Wilson found an uncovered Keaton Upshaw in the flats for a gain of 11 yards to keep the drive alive. He was sacked for a loss of 10 yards on the ensuing 1st down, however, and once the offense was behind the chains they weren’t able to recover. Another sack on 3rd down brought up 4th and 30, forcing the Cats to punt.

Florida started slow, as Kentucky seemingly forced a three-and-out thanks in part to a few big hits by Yusuf Corker. The Gators faked the punt on 4th down and the Wildcats were caught unawares. Two plays later, Kyle Pitts beat Kelvin Joseph deep and Kyle Trask connected with him for a 56 yard touchdown. Florida took a 7-0 lead.

The Wildcat offense came back onto the field with a methodical drive in mind, picking up a few yards at a time to keep the chains moving and the clock running. Kentucky leaned heavily on Smoke and Wilson on the ground, not throwing once on the drive. Seven plays into the drive Rose carried on a 3rd and 1, but Florida’s defensive line was quicker than Kentucky and closed in for the tackle for no gain, forcing another punt from the Cats.

Florida’s offense took over with 1:23 left in the quarter and leaned on Kyle Trask early, going to three straight passes after a false start to open the drive. On the first play of the second quarter, Yusuf Corker forced a fumble after Trask’s completion to Shorter and DeAndre Square recovered for Kentucky.

 

Second Quarter

The Cats took over on Florida’s 38 yard line and kept the momentum from the turnover going. Wilson opened with a slant pass to Keaton Upshaw that picked up 13 yards before Kentucky returned to the ground game for five straight plays, bringing up 3rd and 3 from Florida four yard line. Wilson hit Upshaw on a play-action pass for the touchdown catch, bringing the score to 7-7 after Ruffolo tacked on the extra point.

Kyle Trask connected with Kadarius Toney on 1st down for a gain of 21 yards, but the Florida offense struggled after, unable to pick up another first down before being forced to punt back to Kentucky on 4th and 6.

Kentucky started on their own eight yard line, going to Kavosiey Smoke for two run plays before Wilson hit Ali again, this time for a gain of nine. Three more runs plays, two by AJ Rose and one carry by Wilson, put the Cats at midfield, where DeMarcus Harris was dragged to the ground by Florida’s Elam before Wilson’s pass could reach him, and the pass interference penalty moved Kentucky to the Florida 40 yard line. The Cats continued to gaing round after the help of the penalty, and at the 25 yard line Wilson took off with the ball and found room up the right sideline. He picked up 19 yards and gave the Cats a fresh set of downs at the Florida six yard line. Rose picked up one yard on the 1st down carry and Wilson’s 2nd and 3rd down passes fell incomplete, forcing UK to try the field goal. Matt Ruffolo’s 22 yard kick was good, giving Kentucky a 10-7 lead.

Florida’s drive started with 2:13 left in the half, and Kyle Trask immediately went to the air, completing three straight passes to receivers near the sideline. Two plays later, Florida was called for a personal foul that backed them up 15 yards. The Cats kept Florida behind the chains and forced another punt, this one going out of bounds at the one yard line.

The Cats came out in the shadow of their own end zone, sticking with the ground game to get some breathing room. On 3rd and 1 Rose took the carry, getting stopped short for no gain and staying down with an apparent ankle injury. The Cats were forced to punt, and Duffy’s kick was off, going right to Kadarius Toney in open space. Toney ran the punt back for 50 yard touchdown, giving Florida at 14-10 lead as the teams went in for halftime.

 

Third Quarter

Florida received the kickoff to open the second half, going to three straight passes to start the drive. The third was a double pass with Kadarius Toney connecting with Pitts. On first down JJ Weaver appeared to have the sack on Trask, but was called for a facemask, giving Florida an extra 15 yards. Kordell Looney then was called for a facemask on the next play on a tackle for loss, giving Florida another 13 yards. Kelvin Joseph was called for pass interference in the end zone when Trask targeted Pitts, and that set up 1st and goal on the two yard line for the Gators. They scored on a pass to Pitts, who had Brandin Echols in coverage this time. The Gators took a 21-10 lead, thanks in large part to Kentucky’s penalty trouble.

The Cats offense fared no better when they took the field, netting just two yards on three run plays. On 4th and 8 the Cats were called for a delay of game before eventually punting on 4th and 13. 

Florida, now hitting their stride, took advantage of Kentucky’s lack of firepower on offense. With the defense having had virtually no break, the Gators went straight to the passing game. Trask connected with Copeland for a gain of 42 yards on the first play of the drive, taking the Gators into Kentucky territory immediately. Florida continued to push the ball down the field after that, moving into the red zone just two plays later. Kentucky was able to slow down the Gator offense after that with a sack by Jordan Wright and Boogie Watson pushing Florida back from the two yard line to the 11. A delay of game lost Florida another five, and they eventually kicked a field goal on 4th and goal from the 16. The kick gave the Gators a 24-10 lead.

Kentucky had nothing on offense again, a deep incompletion from Wilson to Epps setting the Cats behind the chains immediately. On 3rd and 9 Wilson’s pass over the middle was intercepted by Florida’s Diabate, who returned the pick to Kentucky’s 12 yard line.

Florida only needed three plays to score with Trask once again connecting with Pitts for the touchdown. The score pushed Florida’s lead to 31-10.

Kentucky’s offense came back out for what turned out to be yet another three-and-out. Wilson’s pass to Ali on 2nd down went for eight yards, bringing up 3rd and 2, but Wilson’s keeper on 3rd down only gained one yard and Max Duffy came out to punt. This one gave Florida the ball at their own 20 to start.

The Cats kept committing unforced errors, as Yusuf Corker was called for illegal formation immediately, giving Florida a free five yards to start their drive. On 2nd down, Jordan Wright stripped Wright and Jamin Davis recovered the fumble for Kentucky. The Wildcats lost 15 yards, however, thanks to a personl foul on Kelvin Joseph for a late hit on Kyle Trask.

The Wildcats struggled again to get anything going on offense. Wilson hit Josh Ali for a pickup of two yards on 1st down and Rose ran for six on 2nd, but the Cats couldn’t find enough to move the chains. Rose lost two yards on 3rd and down, and the offense stayed on the field for 4th and 4, but Wilson’s pass to Rose only gained two. The Cats turned the ball over on downs.

 

Fourth Quarter

Florida once again had a huge play to open a drive, this one coming in the form of a 38 yard run by Pierce to move Florida immediately into WIldcat territory. The Gators stuck with the run game for three more plays before bringing out the field goal unit for a 45 yard try. The kick attempt hit the right upright and the Cats took over on their own 27 yard line with the score still 31-10.

Kentucky abandoned the run game on this drive, trying to find a spark to get the offense going again. On 3rd and 9, Wilson over threw his deep receiver and Florida got their second pick of the day off of him. The Gators took over at their own 46 yard line.

The drive started with two rushes before Trask threw on 1st and 10, hitting Pitts for 22 yards. The Gators struggled to keep gaining ground after that, fizzling aorund the 21 yard line. The field goal unit came in again, and this time McPherson’s kick from 40 was good, extending the Gator lead to 34-10.

Kentucky brought Joey Gatewood in at quarterback, but stayed with the run game to start the drive. Smoke took the first two for a total of 11 yards before Gatewood gained five on the keeper on 1st down. After a rush by Jutahn McClain, Gatewood went to the air, connecting with Mike Drennen who had the ball ripped away by Florida’s Johnson for an interception.

Emory Jones came in the game at quarterback for Florida as the Gators moved the ball enough to run out the last 5:53 of game clock to secure the 34-10 win.

 

The Cats, now 3-6, have one more chance for a win next weekend when they host South Carolina to close the season. 

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Unforced Errors Spell Doom for the Cats in Gainesville

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