Kentucky earned its fourth-straight bowl berth in a 50-7 win that featured two wild snaps, an onside kick recovery, a muffed punt and only ten first half yards by the Skyhawks. “Weird” is the best way you can describe what happened at Kroger Field Saturday night.
Chaos was unleashed on the first snap. UT Martin’s center sailed the ball high over his quarterback’s head. John Bachus picked up the ball and tried to throw it away from the end zone, but when the pass failed to reach the line of scrimmage, it resulted in a safety. A UK three-and-out later, the Skyhawks had a chance to recover… until the center snapped it over Bachus’ head again. This time, Yusuf Corker fell on it in the end zone.
Kentucky led 9-0 without a first down. That should tell exactly how this bizarre game unfolded.
On the next UK possession A.J. Rushed rushed 68 yards, the longest run of the year, for a touchdown, essentially putting the game out of reach for good. That doesn’t mean it did not feature more theatrics.
Unwilling to put Lynn Bowden in harm’s way early, Kentucky let Bowden air it out while struggling to consistently open holes against UT Martin’s 3-3-5 defense. Bowden only completed one of his six passes and threw an interception. When Stoops finally took the gloves off in the second quarter, Bowden ran wild. He finished with rushes of 58 and 40 yards, totaling 129 on the day and two touchdowns. He’s now only 49 yards away from a 1,000-yard rushing season.
On the defensive end, Kentucky got after the poor Skyhawks’ quarterback. The Cats sacked him six times in the first half, a big reason why they only had ten total yards in 30 minutes of action. Kentucky spread the wealth, with only Calvin Taylor Jr. getting more than one sack on the night. His 1.5 moves him up to 7.5 on the season, giving him a half-sack lead for the most in the SEC.
The UK defense finished the night with 11 tackles for loss. UT Martin recorded only 204 yards of offense. If not for a few late screen passes in the fourth quarter, UK would have held their second straight opponent to less than 200 yards.
The game featured plenty of fun and more funky. Skyhawks’ punter Zane Cox rolled punts all night. Josh Ali misplayed one bounce, giving the ball back to UT Martin. They played aggressively coming out of the half time locker room, calling an onside kick that actually worked. Typically one would shake their head, but the play was too impressive to incite a complaint.
Kentucky failed to pitch a shutout, but thanks to a pair of late big runs by true freshman Travis Tisdale and walk-on Tyler Markray, Kentucky recorded 462 rushing yards, setting a new single-game school record. The 50-burger was UK’s first 50-point performance since they scored 56 in last year’s season finale against Louisville.
It was wet, wild, weird and a lot of fun.