The Kentucky Wildcats Football hosted the Florida Gators tonight trying to break the Gators’ streak of 30 consecutive wins. It was an electric atmosphere in a sold-out stadium on a Saturday night on a day that has provided nearly perfect weather. One of the longest win streaks in college football would either continue or be broken tonight in Lexington. The No. 20 Gators came into Lexington to face the Wildcats on Kroger Field, with a chance to extend their 30-game win streak, the longest active winning streak by a college football team over an opponent and the fourth-longest in history.
The last time the Wildcats defeated Florida was in 1986, with Kentucky’s 10-3 win. Florida leads the all-time series, 50-17, and holds a 20-10 edge in Lexington.
“I take it personally,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said. “I do. I care. I care about our fan base. I do care about the history, even if I wasn’t here. I want to make our people happy and supportive of our team. Past players and all the tradition, the whole deal. It’s important. That’s part of what motivates you every day to get up and do the best job you can.”
After the end of the game the first thought that came to my mind was from the Red Hot Chili Peppers lyric “Give it Away – Give it away – Give it away now!” And that’s regrettably is just what Kentucky did losing 28-27! A stellar 1st half would be followed by a shaky 2nd half with 3 key plays defining the game. Two times unbelievably UK failed to cover a Gator receiver leaving them wide open for uncontested TD’s, capped off with a holding penalty with just over 20 seconds on the clock negating a huge run by Benny Snell that would have placed the Cats within chip shot field goal range and a chance to win the game.
The Wildcats jumped out to 7-0 and 14-7 leads in the first half before fears of another steak-extending mistake surfaced when junior cornerback Derrick Baity left Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland uncovered for a 45-yard touchdown with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. Those fears only multiplied when Austin MacGinnis’ 48-yard field-goal attempt on the ensuing drive bounced off the left upright and Baity went down with a head injury on the final play of the half.
Kentucky wasted no time regaining momentum after returning to the field in front of a sellout crowd for the third quarter by forcing a Florida three-and-out then driving 62 yards on four plays for a go-ahead touchdown on a 23-yard pass from quarterback Stephen Johnson to tight end C.J. Conrad.
Disaster almost struck again on Kentucky’s next drive when center Bunchy Stallings sailed a snap over Johnson’s head for an 18-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 6-yard line, but MacGinnis steadied the ship with a 42-yard field goal. Two drives later he set the school’s career field goal record with a 50-yarder to give Kentucky a 27-14 lead.
Florida answered with a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown run from wide receiver Brandon Powell to pull within one score at 27-21 with 7:58 remaining.
A Kentucky three-and-out followed before Florida’s game-winning drive. Kentucky appeared to drive into range of a possible game-winning field goal on the final drive before a holding penalty against senior guard Nick Haynes negated a long Benny Snell run.
MacGinnis’ 57-yard field-goal attempt at the buzzer fell short.
Stephen Johnson, The Wildcats quarterback continued the run of strong play to start his senior season, connecting on 17 of 25 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns.
UK football might be cursed when it comes to playing Florida. There’s no explaining how else you can gaffe this badly and lose when up 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The win now keeps Florida unbeaten in SEC play and extends the wining streak over Kentucky to 31 games. Kentucky, meanwhile, goes to 3-1 on the season.