Live blog from Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the Kentucky-Florida game, the SEC opener for both schools:
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson completed a 29-yard scoring pass to receiver David Bouvier with 5:07 left in the first quarter to complete a 91-yard drive in nine plays. The Wildcats had runs of 14 yards by Benny Snell Jr. and 31 yards by Wilson to highlight the mark that took 4:33. Miles Butler converted that point-after kick.
Defensive back Brad Stewart bit badly on an out route and Kentucky takes the lead. Gator defenders seem to be out of position a lot on that drive. UF lost defensive back Marco Wilson earlier in the drive to a knee injury.
Pregame notes: Senior defensive lineman Cece Jefferson again had to sit out with a suspension for an academic issue that also kept him out of the opener last week, per UF. Still out injured are junior middle linebacker David Reese and defensive back Shawn Davis.
What went right: Florida was held scoreless, but the Gators consistently moved the ball thanks to some key third-down conversions by Feleipe Franks in the passing game and were on the UK 3-yard line when the quarter ended.
What went wrong: Let’s just put it this way, nothing went right for the Florida defense. On UK’s second offensive play, the Gators lost starting cornerback Marco Wilson to a knee injury of some sort. It went quickly downhill from there. The defense simply had no answer for dual-threat quarterback Terry Wilson, who burned the Gators with both his arm and his legs. He broke free for a 31-yard run after he found no one open downfield. A few plays later, on a second-and-16 from the UF 29, Wilson scrambled out of the pocket to his right and found a wide-open David Bouvier in the end zone for an easy touchdown to give the Wildcats and early, and stunning, 7-0 lead.
Play of the quarter: For the Gators, it was a 30-yard pass from Franks to running back Jordan Scarlett to convert a third-and-four. For UK, it was the TD toss by Wilson.
Trending: The Wildcats are clearly winning the line of scrimmage on offense, something that has the Florida defense off balance and searching. The UK defensive line is also controlling the UF offensive line in the running game.
— Robbie Andreu
UF will had the ball on the UK 3 when the game resumed.
Beautiful throw by Franks down the middle to Scarlett that converts a third-and-four and puts the Gators on the UK 35. Franks then hit Van Jefferson for a 13-yard gain and he ran nine yards to the three. Franks was sacked and then Scarlett dropped a pass.
Evan McPherson nailed a 29-yard field goal to cut the UF deficit to 7-3. The kick capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive.
Franks completed an 18-yard TD pass to tight end Moral Stephens to put UF up 10-7 with 8:27 left in the quarter. The four-pay, 63-yard drive was aided by a facemask penalty on UK and a 16-yard pass from Franks to Kadarius Toney to the Wildcat 26.
UF stepped up defensively by forcing two turnovers on what appeared to be successful Kentucky drives.
Linebacker James Houston forced Wilson to fumble, with linebacker Jeremiah Moon recovering at the UF 30.
Then, after a 44-yard run by Snell, UF cornerback CJ Henderson intercepted a Wilson pass at the Gator 2-yard line just before the half. There’s a reason teams don’t throw at him often. His fifth career pick.
What went right: A lot went right for the Gators, who outscored the Wildcats 10-0 to take a 10-7 lead heading into halftime. Franks continued to have success in the passing game and hooked up with a wide-open Moral Stephens for an 18-yard touchdown pass that gave the Gators the lead. The TD got started with a 25-yard punt return by Freddie Swain. Also on the drive, Franks had a 16-yard completion to Kadarius Toney that put UF on the UK 26. Although the defense struggled throughout the quarter, the Gators pitched a shutout thanks to two UK turnovers by quarterback Terry Wilson — a fumble and an interception.
What went wrong: The Gators took a pretty good beating on both lines of scrimmage. UF could get no push in the running game, while the defensive front failed to get off blocks, which allowed the Wildcats to have success on both the ground and through the air, especially on the ground. The Gators started the quarter with a second-and-one from the UK 3, but Franks was sacked for a nine-yard loss, then Scarlett dropped a pass over the middle that might have gone for a touchdown and UF had to settle for the field goal.
Play of the quarter: sophomore cornerback CJ Henderson’s diving interception on the 2-yard with 32 seconds left that allowed the Gators to keep the lead going into halftime.
Trending: The Gators went into halftime knowing they needed to make some major adjustments on both lines of scrimmage. With UK spreading the field with three, four and five wide receivers, UF could not stack against the run, which was creating big openings for tailback Benny Snell Jr.
— Robbie Andreu
Kentucky 7 0
Florida 0 10
Wilson continued to hurt the Gators on the ground, breaking free for a 24-yard scoring run to put UK up 14-10 at the 9:49 mark of the third quarter. The score capped a 10-play, 90-yard drive.
UK now has 314 yards of total offense and it’s still early in the third quarter. The ‘Cats are clearly outplaying the Gators in a big way.
This time, Wilson hurt the Gators with his passing. He had the time to complete a 54-yard TD pass to a streaking Lyn Bowden with 4:11 left in the third quarter.
To add to UF troubles, McPherson hit what appeared to be a 36-yard field goal, but it was called no good. Field goals are not reviewable.
What went right: Pretty much nothing, other than two major penalties against the UK defense late in the quarter. But that didn’t turn into anything good, either.
What went wrong: Pretty much everything. The Wildcats took control of the game by winning both lines of scrimmage in a big way. On defense, the Gators were helpless against the scrambling Wilson and the hard-running Snell. Even when it looked like the Gators had managed to put themselves in a good situation — a third-and-16 — they had to endure failure in the form of a 54-yard TD pass. On offense, the Gators could not run the ball and had problems protecting Franks. Thanks to those two penalties, the Gators had a chance to make it a one-score game with a 36-yard field goal attempt, but it was ruled no good (although it appeared to go through the uprights). The result was zero points.
Play of the quarter: Wilson’s 54-yard TD pass to Lynn Bowden on third-and-16 to give the Wildcats a 21-10 lead.
Trending: The Gators were struggling just to stay on the field with the Wildcats, who appeared to be wearing out the UF defense with the running game and Wilson’s ability to make plays with his legs.
— Robbie Andreu
Kentucky 7 0 14
Florida 0 10 0
Florida cut the deficit to 21-16 on a 4-yard TD pass from Franks to Freddie Swain with 3:43 left in the game to cap a 15-play, 99-yard drive that took 5:14. The pass for the two-point conversion failed.
UK forced a fumble and returned 30 yards for the final points.
The Gators’ 31-game winning streak over the Wildcats is over. Kentucky hadn’t beaten Florida since 1986 and hadn’t won in Gainesville since 1979.
What went right: To the Gators credit, they picked themselves up off the ground late in the fourth quarter and actually made a game of it. Franks threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Swain with 3:43 to play to make it a one-score game.
What went wrong: The Gators’ couldn’t stop Snell when they had to, and on the two-point play after the TD, Franks failed to see a wide-open Malik Davis in the right corner of the end zone that would have drawn the Gators to within three.
Play of the quarter: An 18-yard pass from Franks to Lamical Perine on fourth-and-eight that kept the Gators TD drive alive.
— Robbie Andreu
Kentucky 7 0 14 0 — 27
Florida 0 10 0 6 — 16