For the second week in a row, the Kentucky Wildcats managed to blow out an SEC foe with the entire football world paying attention, defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks by a final score of 24-10.
With the victory, Kentucky moves to 5-0 on the year and 3-0 in SEC play, pushing their current winning streak against South Carolina to five consecutive victories.
The Cats and Gamecocks traded field goals in the first quarter, but from there, it was all Kentucky in an impressive rushing performance and yet another ridiculous defensive display.
On offense, the Cats ran for a total of 195 yards, with three players rushing for over 35 yards. In total yardage, Kentucky squeaked by South Carolina by a final tally of 327-321 with the help of seven tackles for loss.
Kentucky star running back Benny Snell once again added to his Heisman campaign, finishing with 99 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. He scored his 40th career touchdown, making him just one of 20 players in SEC history to accomplish the feat.
Terry Wilson also finished with a smooth 59 yards rushing and a touchdown on a beautiful fake handoff at the one-yard line. He added 132 yards on 13-20 passing to go with an interception thrown early in the fourth quarter.
Running back AJ Rose also managed a touchdown of his own, scoring from 24 yards out on a tightrope scamper on the right sideline. He finished with 38 yards on the day to push his season total to 193 yards.
After a dominant offensive performance in the first half, where they found themselves up 24-3 at the break, things slowed down significantly for Eddie Gran’s offense.
To open the second half, Kentucky milked six minutes off the clock and put the offense in position to put points on the board on a 43-yard field goal. Instead of potentially going up 27-3, senior kicker Miles Butler missed it wide left, leaving the door open for South Carolina to drive it down the field for a score of their own.
On third and long on the following drive, Jake Bentley lofted a deep ball to star receiver Deebo Samuel, leaving the ball in the air long enough for Lonnie Johnson to make a play. Johnson failed miserably on the gamble, jumping too early and leaving Samuel open for the easy touchdown to cut the score to 24-10 in favor of the Cats.
After momentum swung in South Carolina’s favor a bit, Kentucky temporarily killed it on the very next drive as safety Darius West picked the ball off and returned it to the USC 37. On the play, Kash Daniel was called for a targeting call, pushing the Cats back 15 yards and leaving the defense without their star middle linebacker. The bad fortune continued, as the offense stalled out once again, going three-and-out to put the ball back in USC’s hands.
After a monster punt by Max Duffy to pin South Carolina deep in their own territory, Josh Allen got back to his dominant pass-rushing ways, sacking Bentley just outside of their own endzone on first down. The Cats made another impressive stop on the run right around the line of scrimmage, followed by a pass breakup on the sideline on third down to force the punt.
Once again, the Cats failed to convert on the great field position, deciding to run the ball six consecutive times on offense. Three penalties were also called on Kentucky, pushing them back to the 50-yard line for a 3rd and 40. Wilson tossed a deep ball to the seven, which was picked off by a Gamecock defender, basically the equivalent to a long punt.
South Carolina followed it up with a long drive of their own, trekking 71 yards down the field with their eyes set on making it a one possession game. When the nerves kicked in for the BBN, the Wildcat defense stepped up once again, as Mike Edwards came up with a massive interception in the end zone to essentially seal the deal.
The Cats milked the clock down a bit more with three consecutive runs to run it down to just 2:06 remaining in the game, adding another deep punt by Duffy to pin the Cocks down at the 17.
South Carolina moved the ball down the field and into Kentucky territory, momentarily pushing their total yardage past the Cats. Once again, any hope of a comeback was crushed by Jamar “Boogie” Watson and Josh Allen, as each forced a sack on the final drive. One final prayer was thrown to Deebo Samuel, but forced incomplete by the Wildcat defense.
Kentucky took over on downs and went into victory formation to finalize the 24-10 victory and push their winning streak over South Carolina to five straight.
Darius West led the defense with nine tackles (five solo), one interception, and two pass breakups.
Allen finished the day with eight tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, one quarterback hit, and one forced fumble.
Jordan Jones and Mike Edwards, and Boogie Watson each added tackles for loss, as well.
West, Edwards, and Derrick Baity also finished with an interception, three of four total turnovers forced by the defense.
5-0 on the year, 3-0 in conference play, and yet another jump in the rankings expected tomorrow.
I like my team.