Kentucky Falls at South Carolina on Saturday
Ray Davis rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown and the Kentucky defense had a big effort but the Cats lost to South Carolina 17-14 on Saturday night at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia.
Devin Leary was 17 of 34 through the air for 171 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Dane Key caught four passes for 51 yards and Barion Brown caught four for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore Deone Walker led the UK defensive effort with nine tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry. Linebacker D’Eryk Jackson also had nine tackles for UK.
Kentucky (6-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) got the ball first and the Cats appeared to have a first down but a penalty negated the play. The Cats were forced to punt and South Carolina took over on its own 31.
The Gamecocks would turn their possession into points. South Carolina covered 69 yards in 11 plays, ending with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Rattler to Xavier Leggette. Mitch Jeter converted the extra point and the Gamecocks led 7-0 with 7:27 left in the first quarter.
Kentucky went three and out on its next possession and South Carolina took over at its own 44. The Gamecocks put together another long drive, 12 plays worth, but the Cats’ defense held and forced South Carolina into a 23-yard field goal from Jeter, which was good, giving South Carolina a 10-0 lead with 13 seconds left in the first period.
The Cats would get things going on the next drive. Leary connected with Tayvion Robinson for 18 yards to get UK into South Carolina territory. On a third and eight, Leary hit Izayah Cummings for 12 yards to get Kentucky to the Carolina 12. After Davis rushed for five yards, Leary hit Brown in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. Alex Raynor added the PAT and the Cats cut the deficit to 10-7 with 10:52 left in the half.
Kentucky’s defense forced a three and out on the next South Carolina drive and the Gamecocks punted for the first time in the game. The Cats took over at their own 30 with 9:26 left in the half.
Ramon Jefferson ripped off a 21-yard run on the first play of the ensuing drive to get the Cats across midfield. Leary would scramble for eight yards and South Carolina was penalized on the play to move the ball to the South Carolina 27. But Leary would be forced out of the game and Kaiya Sheron came on at quarterback.
Three plays later, Leary came back into the game, facing third and nine, and connected with Brown for a 14-yard completion. But two plays later, Leary’s pass to the end zone was intercepted by South Carolina’s Nick Emmanwori, thwarting the drive and giving the Gamecocks the ball with 5:35 to play in the first half.
South Carolina’s drive went nowhere, thanks to a 17-yard loss by Legette, who was stopped for the big loss by UK linebacker Trevin Wallace. The Gamecocks punted and the Cats took over at their own 42 with 3:31 to play in the half.
On Kentucky’s next drive, Leary hit Key on third and two for an apparent first down but Key fumbled and South Carolina recovered at their own 34 yard line. The Gamecocks would do nothing with the drive and punted it away. The Cats took a knee and went to the half trailing 10-7.
South Carolina took the ball to start the third quarter and the Gamecocks got one first down before being forced to punt. The Cats were forced to start from their own eight yard line.
The Cats benefited from a penalty on South Carolina to get a little breathing room. The Cats would get into South Carolina territory on receptions by Cummings and Key before Davis took a handoff up the middle and took it to the house for a 31-yard touchdown, giving UK its first lead of the game. Raynor added the PAT and Kentucky grabbed a 14-10 lead with 8:42 left in the third quarter. The 92-yard drive was Kentucky’s longest of the season.
The teams would exchange three and outs but South Carolina gained some field position, starting its third drive of the second half at their own 46 with 4:08 left in the third quarter. The Gamecocks would get into UK territory but a sack by Octavious Oxendine foiled the drive and forced another South Carolina punt. Kentucky took over at its own seven near the end of the third quarter, a stanza that ended with Kentucky ahead 14-10.
As the fourth quarter began, Kentucky was forced to punt and South Carolina took over at its own 26 with 13:16 to play. The Gamecocks were able to move the ball into UK territory and would find the end zone on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Rattler to Legette. Jeter added the point after and South Carolina led 17-14 with 7:44 remaining.
Kentucky was able to get the ball to midfield on its next drive but would eventually punt and South Carolina took over at its own one yard line after a 53-yard punt by Wilson Berry. Kentucky would force another three and out and would get the ball back on the South Carolina 49 with 2:10 remaining.
However, on the first play of the ensuing drive, Leary was intercepted by South Carolina’s Tonka Hemingway. The UK defense forced another three and out and South Carolina punted it back to the Cats. UK took over at its own 20 with 57 seconds left and no time outs remaining. UK was able to get the ball near midfield but could get no further.
The Cats complete the regular season on Saturday at Louisville. Kickoff for that game will be determined on Sunday.