Kentucky-Ball State Postgame Notes
KENTUCKY FOOTBALL POSTGAME NOTES
KENTUCKY VS. BALL STATE
KROGER FIELD – LEXINGTON, KY.
SEPT. 2, 2023
FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 44, Ball State 14
Team Records and Series Information
- It was the season opener for both teams, as Kentucky football began its 133rd season.
- UK is now 91-37-5 in all-time season openers, including 8-3 under Mark Stoops.
- The Wildcats have won 13 of their past 17 season openers, including six of the last seven.
- The Wildcats have won the last five games that they have opened the season at home (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023), the most since the Cats opened at home and won them all from 1987-1994.
- UK has scored 35 points in the last nine seasons they have opened the season at home (2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023), which is a school record.
- Kentucky leads the all-time series with Ball State, 2-0.
- The previous matchup was a 28-20 UK win in 2001.
- Next up, the Wildcats continue their three-game homestand Saturday, Sept. 9 against area rival Eastern Kentucky.
- The kickoff time is 3 p.m. ET and it will be televised on ESPN+.
- The Wildcats have won their last 17 straight regular-season nonconference games.
- UK has won 15 straight nonconference games at Kroger Field.
- Under defensive coordinator Brad White, the UK defense has held its opponents to 24 or fewer points in 17 of the last 18 games.
- The Wildcats recorded their first scoop-and-score since 2019, thanks to Alex Afari forcing a fumble and Jalen Geiger’s recovery and 39-yard jaunt for a touchdown.
- The previous scoop-and-score was by Jordan Wright’s 29 yards for a touchdown against Virginia Tech in the final play of the Belk Bowl on Dec. 31, 2019.
- It marked the first time UK has had a fumble returned for a touchdown and a kickoff returned for a touchdown in the same game since Jan. 2, 2009 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against East Carolina.
- Barion Brown’s kickoff return touchdown marked the first time UK has had a kickoff returned for a touchdown in the season opener in consecutive seasons.
- The triumph marked the first time UK has scored at least 37 points in three straight season openers since 1928-1930.
- It also marked the first time UK has won three straight season openers by at least 24 points since 2007-2009.
- It also marked the first time UK has allowed less than 300 yards of total offense in three straight season openers since 2007-09.
- It marked the first time UK has made at least three field goals in two straight season openers since 1985-1986.
Coach Mark Stoops
- Mark Stoops began his 11th season as Kentucky’s head coach, extending his school record for the most seasons as the UK head coach.
- Stoops extended his school records for most total victories (67) and home victories (47).
- After two games of the 2016 season, Stoops’ record was 12-26, but he has gone 55-33 (.625) since.
- In his Kentucky debut, senior transfer quarterback Devin Leary completed 18 of his 31 passes for 241 yards, just one interception, and a touchdown.
- He surpassed the 7,000-yard passing mark in his college career and now has 7,048 yards after his UK debut.
- He connected on 10 of his last 11 passes in the game.
- Senior transfer running back Ray Davis had 14 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns in his UK debut.
- It marked the 10th game of his career rushing for at least 100 yards, and the fourth in his last five games.
- He became the first UK player with 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns rushing in a season opener since Benny Snell Jr. against Central Michigan on Sept. 1, 2018.
- He became the first UK player with 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns rushing in their UK debut since Braylon Heard against UT Martin on Aug. 30, 2014.
- It marked the second game of his career recording at least two touchdowns rushing.
- The last time he recorded two touchdowns rushing was against Georgia Tech on Sept 28, 2019.
- Sophomore wide receiver Dane Key led all UK receivers with five receptions for a career-high 96 yards and one touchdown.
- He became the first UK player with a touchdown receiving in the season opener of their freshman and sophomore seasons since Blake Bone in 2014-2015.
- Sophomore wide receiver Barion Brown led UK in all-purpose yards with 156 yards, including 117 yards in kick returns and 39 yards in receptions.
- Brown recorded one touchdown on a 99-yard kickoff return, which marked the second straight season opener and second career game he has scored on a kickoff return.
- Brown became the fourth player in school history with multiple career kickoff return touchdowns, joining Derek Abney (2), Derrick Locke (2) and Craig Yeast (3).
- Brown became the third player in school history with a kickoff return touchdown in consecutive seasons, joining Craig Yeast (1996-1998) and Derrick Locke (2008-2009).
- Graduate student tight end Brenden Bates had his first reception since Kentucky’s game against South Carolina on Oct. 8, 2022, making a career-long, 30-yard catch in the third quarter, setting up the TD toss to Key.
- Junior inside linebacker Trevin Wallace led the UK defense in total tackles with a career-high-tying 12. That included six solo tackles, while adding two tackles for loss and a half sack.
- The lone other time he recorded 12 total tackles was at Mississippi State on Oct. 30, 2021.
- Defensive back Alex Afari Jr. made a career-high eight tackles and a career-high tying 1.5 tackles for loss, both of which were tied for the second-most on the UK defense.
- He forced a fumble on the UK 34 in the second quarter, helping Kentucky record its first scoop-and-score since 2019.
- Defensive back Jalen Geiger earned the second defensive touchdown of his career after recovering a fumble at the UK 31 in the second quarter and running it 69 yards for a touchdown.
- It marked the first defensive touchdown in a season opener for UK since Sept. 2, 2017 at Southern Miss.
- It marked the longest fumble returned for a touchdown since CJ Johnson against Tennessee on Oct. 31, 2015 (77 yards).
- Sophomore defensive back Maxwell Hairston made a career-high eight tackles, which tied for second on the team, including seven solo tackles, which led the UK defense.
- Sophomore defensive lineman Kahlil Saunders had four tackles and he set career highs with 1.5 quarterback sacks / tackles for loss.
- Senior transfer kicker Alex Raynor connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including one from 41 yards and two more from 46 yards, in his Kentucky debut. He also went 5-of-5 in extra point attempts.
- His pair of field goals from 46 yards are just one yard short of his career best.
- Raynor became the first UK player with three made field goals in their UK debut since Taylor Begley against Louisville on Sept. 1, 2002.
- Senior kicker Chance Poore was a perfect 8 of 8 on kickoff touchbacks.
- First career collegiate starts: DB Maxwell Hairston.
- Transfers making first starts at UK: QB Devin Leary, OT Marques Cox, RB Ray Davis.
- Game captains: Outside linebacker J. Weaver, inside linebacker Trevin Wallace, offensive lineman Eli Cox and defensive back Zion Childress.