Game Day Central: Kentucky vs. Florida
Florida had the first possession of the game and the Gators went three and out, aided by a sack from UK’s D’Eryk Jackson. Florida punted and Kentucky took over at its own 12 yard line.
Kentucky went immediately to the ground with Davis, who carried for 10, 19 and four yards on UK’s first three plays from scrimmage. The Cats continued the drive and got inside the Florida 10 yard line before the drive stalled. Alex Raynor came on for a 24-yard field goal, which was good, and UK led 3-0 with 7:13 left in the first quarter. The scoring drive covered 81 yards in 12 plays and took 5:02 off the clock.
On Florida’s next drive, the Gators faced a third and five when quarterback Graham Mertz was intercepted by UK’s Trevin Wallace, who returned it to the Florida 15, setting up Kentucky in prime field position.
The Cats took advantage of the Florida miscue. Just two plays later, Leary connected with Davis, who made one move then scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass to extend the UK lead. Raynor added the PAT and Kentucky led 10-0 with 5:37 to play in the first quarter.
Florida faced a third and six on its next drive when Mertz connected with Kahleil Jackson for 13 yards Florida’s initial first down of the game. The Gators would cross midfield but were eventually forced to punt and UK took over at its own 10 yard line with 57 seconds left in the first.
Kentucky went three and out on the ensuing possession but Florida was flagged for a penalty on UK’s punt attempt and the Cats kept possession. And on the very next play, Kentucky cashed in. Davis went up the middle, virtually untouched, and rambled 75 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The PAT was blocked by UK led 16-0 with 23 seconds left in the first. The period would end with UK leading 16-0.
Florida would be forced to punt again early in the second quarter and UK took over at its own 20 with 12:50 left in the half. The Cats went back to the ground and Davis gained 16 yards on the first play of the drive, then 33 on the following play.
The drive would continue, with Davis eclipsing the 200-yard rushing mark along the way. Davis would score on a three-yard rush to complete the possession, extending the UK lead in the process. Raynor’s PAT was good and UK led 23-0 with 8:54 left in the half.
Florida would make one first down on its next drive but the Gators’ progress would be stopped by penalties and the Gators were forced to punt. Kentucky took over at its own 20 with 5:01 left in the first half.
The Cats got one first down on their next drive before being forced to punt. Florida took over at its own 25 with 2:49 to play in the half.
The Gators had their best drive of the half with the ensuing possession. Florida would get inside the UK five and the Gators got on the board when Mertz connected with tight end Hayden Hansen for a four-yard touchdown. Trey Smack added the point after and Florida cut the UK lead to 23-7 with 34 seconds left in the half. That would be the halftime score.
Kentucky got the first possession of the second half and the Cats went back to Davis, who ripped off a 31-yard run to get UK deep into Florida territory. After a pass interference penalty got the Cats to the Florida two yard line, Davis scored on a two-yard rush. Raynor added the PAT and Kentucky led 30-7 with 10:54 left in the third quarter.
Florida took the next possession into UK territory. And, on a fourth and three from the UK 43, Mertz somehow got the ball to Trevor Etienne who took it 10 yards for a first down. On the next play, Mertz connected with Ricky Pearsall for a 33-yard touchdown. Smack added the PAT and the UK lead was cut to 30-14 with 7:17 left in the third quarter.
Kentucky would get one first down on its next drive before being forced to punt. Florida took over at its own 20 with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
The Gators were forced to punt again on the ensuing possession and the Cats took over at their own 25 with 2:41 left in the third quarter. But the Cats went three and out and punted the ball back to Florida, who took over at their own 13 yard line with 1:10 left in the third. The quarter would end with Kentucky leading 30-14.
As the fourth quarter began, Florida drove near midfield. On fourth and four from their own 43, Mertz hit Arlis Boardingham but Alex Afari brought him down short of the line to make ane UK took over at the Florida 47 with 11:24 to play.
The Cats went to the ground with Davis again. Rushes of five, nine, two and one got the Cats to the 30 yard line. But the drive stalled and Raynor came on for a 50-yard field goal attempt, which was good, giving UK a 33-14 lead with 7:44 remaining.