As we close in on the beginning of Mark Stoops’ seventh year in Lexington, let’s celebrate the historic 2018 season by reminiscing on the top moments. After eliminating some awfully impressive plays, here’s who just made the cut.
This countdown could not be complete without at least one play from the Cats’ 56-10 curb-stomping of the Louisville Cardinals. It was a tough choice between Terry Wilson’s lunge for the end zone and his deep touchdown pass to Lynn Bowden, but the receiver’s celebration put it over the top.
9. Snell Silences Miss. State
Mississippi State gave up only seven rushing touchdowns all year, the fewest in FBS. Benny Snell ran for four in one night.
There are many things that made Benny Snell great. His timing is unlike any other player I’ve seen in a Kentucky uniform. Leading by a touchdown with eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, safety Tyrell Ajian picked off a Nick Fitzgerald pass. The soggy Kroger Field crowd entered a frenzy. Just when you thought the stadium couldn’t get any louder, Snell sprung free 36 yards for a touchdown, setting a new school record for career scores on the ground.
Snell finished the game with 165 yards on only 25 carries (6.6 yards per attempt). Kentucky dominated the trenches, capping off the four-touchdown performance with a perfect call from Tom Leach. “Wonder who’s going to get the ball?”
8. Senior Day Pick 6
Mike Edwards could not have dreamed of a more perfect start to his final game at Kroger Field. Four plays into the game, the Badger picked off a pass and took it 66 yards to the house. He followed that up four plays later by forcing a fumble. Middle Tennessee State hung around closer than most would have liked to see, but the outcome was never in question thanks to Edwards’ efforts.
7. Scoop and Score
One week away from the midseason bye, Kentucky entered College Station with 5-0 record. The team did not appear to have much left in the tank, except for Darius West.
In a slog between two teams that wanted to possess the ball by keeping it on the ground, UK’s dominant defense struggled to slow down the read option between Trayveon Williams and Kellen Mond. Without much help from the offense, Darius West singlehandedly kept Kentucky in the game.
The senior safety started the fourth quarter by picking off a pass once the Aggies entered UK territory. Trailing by a touchdown with four minutes to play, West sprung into action once again, scooping up a Mond fumble and carrying it 40 yards for a touchdown. West’s heroics forced overtime, but Kentucky could not pull off the upset at Kyle Field to remain undefeated.
6. No Points for You
In 25 years, we will look back fondly at Josh Allen’s career and remember him as a pass rusher. It’s appropriate, considering he holds UK’s all-time sack record, however, versatility is what made him college football’s consensus defensive player of the year. One play perfectly illustrates his ability to do it all when it mattered most.
The sky was starting to fall. It was a situation Kentucky fans had seen too many times before against Florida. The Cats were in the driver’s seat with Florida pinned back at their own one. Ten plays later Florida had a third and 28. Some how, some way the Gators still finished the drive a touchdown.
Needing a two-point conversion to get within a field goal, Kentucky avoided a disaster. Florida’s motion man, Malik Davis, went uncovered on the two-point play, yet Feleipe Franks missed the open man. Instead his eyes turned left. Another man was wide open, ready to reel in the reception. Then Josh Allen arrived. Spotting the designed throwback, Allen recovered just in time to tip the two-point pass away.
Ultimately, the two points did not matter. Bunchy Stallings paved the way for Benny Snell to chew up the clock before Allen’s strip sack sealed it. If things did not go UK’s way, Allen’s efforts gave Kentucky just enough insurance in the waning minutes of the streak snapper.