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Kentucky Football

Kentucky Dominates Missouri in Statement Win

October 26, 2019
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After an eye-opening defensive performance last week at Georgia, the Kentucky Wildcats took their home field to face the 9.5-point favored Missouri Tigers. With rain and wind in abundance, Lynn Bowden’s electric offense once again found holes in the opponent defense. Supported by another dominant defensive performance, the Cats led start to finish, earning a 29-7 victory.

Bowden ran for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns, adding 54 yards through the air in another bad-weather game. Bowden’s ground performance was the most yards in a game by an SEC player this season, now putting him at first (vs Missouri) and third (vs Arkansas) on that list. AJ Rose added 51 yards on 15 carries, and Bryce Oliver led in receiving, gaining 44 yards on his one impressive contested catch from Bowden. 

On defense, Chris Oats led the Cats with eight total tackles while Calvin Taylor added two sacks. Josh Paschal and Jordan Wright each added a sack, and Oats, Wright, Taylor, and Brandin Echols each accounted for a forced fumble during the rain-soaked evening. JJ Weaver, getting playing time due to injuries ahead of him, had his first career tackle. 

 

First Quarter

Missouri won the coin toss and elected to receive, taking the first shot at moving the ball in the odd wind and rain combination swirling around inside Kroger Field. Kentucky’s defense continued their dominance from last week’s performance in Athens, allowing the Tigers to move the ball just one yard on three downs before forcing an early punt. 

Kentucly’s offense took the field, hoping to leave the trend of slow starts behind them. Unfortunately, Missouri had other ideas, giving up six yards to AJ Rose on 1st down but immediately coming back and dropping runner Clevan Thomas for a loss of six on 2nd down. After looking for an open receiver on 3rd and 10, Bowden pulled the ball and ran it himself, gaining nine yards before being tackled. The Wildcats elected to punt on 4th and 1. 

Max Duffy pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory, forcing the Missouri offense to start on their own 14-yard line. The Tigers found some yards early on this drive, converting an early 3rd and 1 to keep the chains moving. Four plays later on 1st and 10, Brandin Echols tackled Tyler Badie for a 2 yard gain and stayed down after the play. He walked off the field, but the break gave the Tigers new life on the drive. The Cats defense struggled to contain a Missouri ground game that eventually pushed the Tigers down to the Kentucky 27 yard line, aided by several missed tackles by the Cats. The drive ended with a 3rd down stop thanks to JJ Weaver’s first tackle in a Kentucky uniform and a subsequent missed field goal by the Tigers.

The Cats’ ensuing drive lasted five plays before Bowden fumbled on a 2nd down tackle and Missouri recovered, gaining possession on their own 49-yard line. Kentucky’s defense held against a balanced rush/pass attack from the Tigers, forcing Missouri to punt at Kentucky’s 40-yard line. The kick went out of bounds at Kentucky’s 14-yard line, giving the Cats the ball back with 1:05 left in the first quarter.

Kentucky stuck with the run for the remainder of the first quarter, gaining seven yards on 1st down thanks to the legs of Bowden, and then another 4 yards from Kavosiey Smoke to give Kentucky a 1st down as they started the second quarter.

 

Second Quarter

The Cats ran Smoke for another three yards before going to the air. Bowden’s first completion of the game was a nine-yard throw to Clevan Thomas. He followed that with a long ball to Bryce Oliver for a 44-yard gain. Oliver was in tight coverage and hauled in a beautiful catch around the arm of Missouri’s Christian Holmes. On the very next play, Bowden himself found a hole and ran for an 18 yard gain, setting the Cats up for 1st and goal from the one-yard line. Kavosiey Smoke took the handoff and leaped over the line of scrimmage, breaking the plane of the goal line before coming back to earth. The score gave Kentucky a 6-0 lead after Matt Ruffolo missed the extra point, breaking Kentucky’s streak of 129 made extra points.

Missouri’s ensuing drive was backed up early by a false start and Kentucky took advantage, pushing the Tigers back on a huge sack and forced fumble by Calvin Taylor. Missouri punted after losing seven yards on the drive, and Josh Ali returned the ball 18 yards to give the Cats favorable field position. 

Kentucky started on the ground at Missouri’s 45-yard line, and after Lynn Bowden got up slowly after a 10-yard run, Sawyer Smith saw his first action since South Carolina. He came in for three plays, handing the ball off twice before completing a nine-yard throw to Josh Ali to set the Cats up at 4th and 1. Lynn Bowden came back into the game and rushed for the 4th down himself, gaining two yards and converting to give Kentucky a fresh set of downs on Missouri’s 20-yard line. The Cats only needed one play though, as AJ Rose found a hole up the middle, taking off for the 20-yard touchdown. Ruffolo continued to struggle, missing his second extra point of the night. The Cats settled for a 12-0 lead halfway through the second quarter. 

Now down two scores, Missouri leaned on their passing game. After 5 straight throws by Kelly Bryant, the Tigers once again stalled out and had to punt back to Kentucky, giving the Cats the ball on their own 20-yard line with 4:28 left in the half. The Cats leaned on Chris Rodriguez early, handing the ball off to him three out of the first four plays before back-to-back pass attempts by Lynn Bowden set the Cats up at 4th and 5 from the Missouri 25 yard line. Chance Poore came in for the 43-yard field goal attempt, sending it straight down the middle. Kentucky increased its lead to 15-0.

Kentucky’s defense fed on the success, giving up a seven-yard pass then sacking Bryant on two straight plays and forcing a fumble (Jordan Wright) on third down. Wright recovered the fumble and gave the Cats the ball at Missouri’s 20-yard line. 

With just 22 seconds left in the half, Lynn Bowden ran on 1st down for no gain, but a personal foul by Missouri for a facemask brought the Cats to the 10-yard line. On the next play, Bowden ran in untouched for the score, putting the Cats up 22-0 at halftime.

 

Third Quarter

Kentucky came out of halftime slowly despite getting the ball to start, going three-and-out quickly and giving Missouri a chance to gain some ground. The Tigers took advantage quickly, as Kelly Bryant’s screen pass on 3rd and 12 to Tyler Badie went for a 74-yard touchdown. After a successful extra point, Missouri brought the score to 22-7.

After a touchback by Missouri, the Cats offense took over at their own 25-yard line. Bowden ran 12 yards for an early 1st down but the offense then stalled, with the end of the drive coming on a 3rd down fumble by Bowden recovered by Missouri. 

The Kentucky defense tightened once again, and despite the Tiger offense gaining possession in Kentucky territory, they came away with no points as the Cats backed Missouri up two yards on the drive and forced a punt. 

Starting on their own four-yard line, the Cats offense had some work to do. They were unable to get out of the hole, moving five yards on three downs. Duffy came into punt, booting the ball 70 yards for a career-long and completely flipping the field for the Cats. Missouri started their drive at their own 21-yard line. 

Missouri brought in backup Taylow Powell at quarterback after Kelly Bryant left the game with a hamstring injury from earlier in the game. With Powell in, the Tigers were able to put together a prolonged drive on the legs on Larry Rountree and bolstered by a pass interference penalty against Kentucky. Missouri moved 62 yards down to the Kentucky 17 yard line before the defense forced 4th and 2. The Tigers opted to go for the conversion, and the pass was incomplete, giving Kentucky the ball on downs and forcing Missouri to come away from a 12-play drive with no points.

 

Fourth Quarter

Kentucky once again found success on the ground to start the fourth quarter. The combination of runs by Chris Rodriguez and Lynn Bowden got the Cats moving, but they faced an early 4th and 6. Max Duffy lined up to punt but pulled the ball after bobbling the snap and took advantage of an open lane in front of him. He ran for 26 yards to give Kentucky a new set of downs and keep the drive alive. A personal foul after the playset Kentucky back 15 yards, but still on 1st down, and the Cats went back to Bowden and Rodriguez to drive them down the field. Bowden took off for 34 yards down the left sideline on 2nd down and was pushed out of bounds late by Missouri, drawing a flag. Josh Ali came in to defend Bowden, also drawing a penalty and causing them to offset. Still, the Cats were at the Missouri 34 yard line on 1st and 10. After two short-yardage plays, Bowden once again evaded tacklers and went 33 yards for another touchdown, padding the Cats’ lead to the tune of 29-7. 

Kentucky’s defense continued to dominate Missouri’s offense, giving up 29 yards on the next drive before forcing Missouri to punt back to the Cats. With the rain pouring down the entire second half, the Cats ran the ball three times to burn the clock before punting back to Missouri. The Tigers were not in the position to be able to run, down 22 points, and once again went to the arm of Powell with little success. Aside from one rush by Dawson Downing, Missouri threw four times with no completions and were forced to punt back to Kentucky.

With 5:15 left in the game, Kentucky pulled Lynn Bowden and put in Sawyer Smith at quarterback. He handed off to AJ Rose six straight times, who churned out just enough yards to keep the chains and the clock moving. The Cats used 4:52 on a six-play, 14-yard drive. After another punt by Duffy, Missouri had time to run one play before the clock expired, giving the Cats their second SEC win, and their second win with Lynn Bowden at quarterback, this season.

 

The Cats have an open week this coming weekend to rest up for the last stretch of the season, then host a Tennessee team coming off a huge win at home over South Carolina. 

 

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Kentucky Dominates Missouri in Statement Win

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