On the verge of falling additional behind No. 10 Florida, Kentucky rose with a number of gut-check performs for a memorable victory.
Trevin Wallace returned a blocked discipline aim 76 yards for the go-ahead landing late within the third quarter, Chris Rodriguez Jr. had a 9-yard scoring run early within the fourth and Kentucky made a ultimate defensive stand to carry off No. 10 Florida 20-13 on Saturday evening.
The Southeastern Conference East Division showdown was extra of a slog than a slugfest for a lot of the evening, and the Gators (3-2, 1-2) have been poised so as to add Jace Christmann’s 48-yard discipline aim try and their 10-7 lead.
Kentucky defensive finish Josh Paschal received a hand on the low kick that despatched the ball fluttering behind the road to Wallace, a freshman who jetted previous a tackler on the left sideline and in the reduction of by way of a small seam to race for the game-changing TD with 6:36 remaining within the third.
“My job is to play like the safety back there in case anything goes wrong,” Wallace mentioned. “The ball got tipped and it came right to me. … I knew what to do when I got the ball. I felt one lineman’s hand brush off me and I knew I was gone.”
The Wildcats (5-0, 3-0) turned it over on downs on the Florida 34 to begin the fourth quarter however rapidly created one other alternative when linebacker J.J. Weaver intercepted Emory Jones’ cross for a primary down on the Gators 29. Rodriguez took over from there, speeding 3 times for 22 yards together with the 9-yard TD for a 20-10 cushion with 11:32 remaining.
Florida received inside seven on Christmann’s 33-yard discipline aim with 6:23 left earlier than getting the ball once more a few minutes later and driving to the Kentucky 5 with the assistance of a defensive facemask penalty. A 4-yard loss on a cross play and false begin penalty moved the Gators again to the 14, however they nonetheless had a ultimate probability from the 8 earlier than Jacquez Jones swatted away Jones’ fourth-down cross with 18 seconds left to seal the win.
Fans stormed the field to rejoice as Kentucky beat Florida at dwelling for the primary time since 1986 and took a giant step towards difficult No. 2 Georgia within the East. The Wildcats are 5-0 for the primary time since going 10-3 in 2018 and simply the fourth time prior to now 70 years.
“Never been a part of a team that had fans storm the field,” mentioned Kentucky quarterback Will Leavis, who transferred this summer season from Penn State. “The fans were awesome.”
The Wildcats did it regardless of being outgained 382-211, however received a 41-yard TD cross from Will Levis to Wan’Dale Robinson within the first quarter and 99 yards speeding on 19 carries from Rodriguez.
A slew of false begins comprised a lot of Florida’s 15 penalties for 115 yards. Jones accomplished 23 of 31 passes for 203 yards, however the Gators have been held manner under their common of practically 541 yards that ranked ninth coming in.
“I mean, you’re not gonna make all the mistakes we made in the course of a game and expect to win,” Florida coach Dan Mullen mentioned. “You’re not gonna win in the SEC doing that.”
Kentucky’s loud, boisterous dwelling crowd of 61,632 — one facet of the stadium bathed in blue, the opposite facet in white with a nook of Florida followers in orange — appeared to disrupt the Gators’ cadence. They dedicated consecutive false-start penalties on one second-quarter possession that misplaced 14 yards and have been out of sync on many vital performs, together with the ultimate drive after they reached the 5 as one other penalty moved them backward.
While Florida gamers chalked it as much as lack of focus, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was proud of the sting it gave his staff.
“They had seven or eight shots at the end,” he mentioned, “and that is a tough hill to climb to stop them that many times. There was another false start, and thank you, fans, for affecting the game.”
THREE AND OUT
Both groups struggled on third down. Kentucky entered the sport changing 54% of its probabilities however made simply 1 of 8 in opposition to Florida. The Gators have been simply 4 of 13.
Florida figures to drop a number of slots with its second SEC loss. Kentucky made a robust case for becoming a member of the rankings for the primary time since its memorable 2018 season.
Florida: The Gators moved the ball with Jones and Anthony Richardson however couldn’t end aside from their first TD. Christmann’s 51 yard discipline aim offered an edge, however the block and interception dug a gap they couldn’t climb from. The false begins in a loud atmosphere have been particularly expensive in stalling drives and momentum.
“The main thing that we had to come do is handle the environment,” Jones mentioned. “I think we did part of the game, but we just had too many penalties. You can’t win games like that.”
Kentucky: The Wildcats actually had just one sustained drive and dedicated one other but turnover that just about price them till Paschal and Wallace prevented that from occurring with a clutch particular groups play and TD. Weaver’s pickoff arrange an insurance coverage rating, a uncommon takeaway that proved pivotal in a defensive battle.
Florida: Hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Kentucky: Hosts LSU on Saturday.
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