There are slow starts, there are bad starts and then there’s whatever Kentucky did today in Columbia, South Carolina.
On the first play from scrimmage, the safety fell for the play-action fake. It left Deebo Samuel to scamper free for a 68-yard touchdown. That was just the beginning.
On Kentucky’s second offensive play, Stephen Johnson forced a pass down the middle of the field to C.J. Conrad that was picked off by linebacker Skai Moore. The next time the Cats got the ball, there was another fumbled snap in the Wildcat.
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong, yet the Cats only trailed 6-0. Kentucky seized the opportunity and never looked back.
Kentucky responded by methodically marching down the field for a 13-play 75-yard drive that ended with a Benny Snell touchdown, his first of two on the day. With the extra point, UK took the lead and never lost it again.
After scoring in two straight weeks on special teams, it’s what cost South Carolina the game. They left ten points on the board with three missed three field goals and a missed extra point. They almost cut the Kentucky lead to five before half, but a delay of game penalty negated the 49-yard make.
Jake Bentley tried to will the Gamecocks back and almost succeeded. Bentley was masterful in the art of the dink and dunk, completing 16 consecutive passes in one stretch. He was able to reach the corner of the end zone late in the fourth quarter, but it was already after the South Carolina offense failed on two second half fourth down attempts.
Kentucky looked like they were going to let the game slip away after the late South Carolina score, but Stephen Johnson was having none of that. Runs from 23 and 54 yards led to Kentucky field goals that put the game out of reach.
The Wildcats looked bad before they looked beautiful, but it sure was one beautiful win over South Carolina, something Kentucky has been able to say for four consecutive years.