In football, coaches often say it wasn’t the one play that cost them the game. While the two-point conversion was the play that beat the Cats there were a bunch of other plays that put the Cats in the situation to lose. Looking back over the game the guys in blue made some mistakes and the Hilltoppers capitalized. How different would the game have been if the Cats could have some plays back. The repeated mistakes slowly added nails to the coffin and ended up costing us the game. Here are the top 5 plays that I think made the difference between winning and losing:
5. The first interception:
1st Quarter, ~13:00: 3rd and 14 at our own 32 and the Cats are looking to keep the chains moving. Smith threw his first pick on this play and set the tone for the entire game. Western was here to play aggressive. Kentucky would struggle to find targets and would hand deliver their opponent excellent field position. This play lead directly to Western taking an early 3-0 lead from which the Cats would never fully recover. If this ball just hits the ground the game starts out much differently. While this play didn’t make the difference it just about defined how the rest of the game would go.
4. Sweat Gets Loose:
4th Quarter, ~:30: The play that capped off the comeback. At least this play saved us the further embarrassment of losing in regulation. The Cats showed some grit by driving down the field to tie it up as time expired. They looked to have momentum on their side going into OT. From this play the team would go on to take their first lead in overtime and looked to finally be putting the tops away. While this play turned the tide of the game it was all for naught as roughing the passer penalty would end up costing the Cats the game. A mental lapse perhaps undid the Joker era.
3. Jakes to McNeal, Touchdown:
3rd Quarter,~8:00: This play capped off a 75-yard drive by Western to begin the second half. There were flashbacks to the game two weeks ago in Louisville when the Cats found themselves incapable of getting a stop. There were two third down conversions as they had their way with the UK defense. The drive killed the momentum the Cats had put together to end the first half and showed that Western wasn’t going to lie down. The touchdown gave the tops a 24-10 lead and enough breathing room to keep running the ball and using the clock on the rest of their drives.
2. Max Smith’s third interception:
2nd Quarter,~5:45: The first interception hurt, but it was so early the Cats could have recovered. The second one could have been bad but the defense answered with a big stop on fourth-and-one. The fourth interception could have been worse but somehow the Cats forced a fumble and avoided disaster. The third interception though was perhaps what doomed the victory. The throw gave Western the ball at their own two-yard line and after a quick score put the Cats in a 17-0 hole. You can’t get in a hole that bad to and upstart team. The third interception is just about the main reason the Cats lost the game.
1. The Two Point Conversion:
This play is the equivalent of a walk-off home run. Western showed true grit in even going for the play and it was so close to being dropped. But it didn’t go that way and cost us the game, possibly a shot at a bowl, and puts our football future in a fog. Win-or-lose the played proved that the Hilltoppers were there to win, not just give the Cats a good game. If the team is going to turn the season around they are going to have to adopt the same mentality.
The game was hard to watch, especially just seeing the team repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot. Those are my picks for the plays that ended up making the difference in winning and losing, what would you add?