Last year, Kentucky and Kent were two of the worse offenses in the NCAA and were ,well kind of a disaster. So the cynic would assume that this trend would continue this year and there were be no excitement in tonight’s matchup. Well, as is the case frequently, the cynics were wrong. The two teams combined for 61 points and 948 yards of total yardage as the Kentucky Wildcats romped past the Kent State Golden Flashes 47-14 and evened their record at 1-1.
As with last week, Max Smith was sharp early, but as with last week, Kentucky squandered some opportunities and left points on the field. The Wildcat’s second possession saw not one, but two fourth down calls in Kent State territory by Joker Phillips. On the second one, Morgan Newton was stuffed for a loss out of the “Wildcat”. On the next drive, the normally reliable Craig McIntosh missed a 45 yard FG and Kentucky had nothing to show for their first three drives of the night. For their credit, Kentucky’s defense had held Kent State in check for the first two drives of the game. And then…
Dri Archer bounced off a Kentucky defender and delivered a nice stiff arm as he raced 47 yards for a TD. Commonwealth Stadium got real uncomfortable as Kent State took a 7-0 lead with 1:54 left in the first quarter. But as he has done all season, Max Smith was ice on the next drive. Smith put together a 10 play, 75 yard drive which culminated with him hitting Aaron Boyd for a 14 yard TD pass which tied the game at 7. This was the first ever TD reception in Boyd’s career and the senior caught three passes on the drive. Raymond Sanders also had a nice 23 yard scamper on the drive. Kent State put together a 12 play, 50 yard drive which ended in kicker Freddy Cortez missing a 50 yard FG. On the next play, Raymond Sanders ripped off a 67 yard TD run which included a nice stiff arm at about the 15 yard line. And like that, it was 14-7 UK.
Cortez missed another FG, this one from 31 yards out with :47 left in the half. The Joker Phillips of last year would have let the clock expire and been content to go in at half up 14-7, but not this year’s Joker. After a sack of Max Smith, Kentucky faced a 3rd and 10 from their own 20 but Kentucky took a timeout with :24 remaining. Aaron Boyd made a circus sideline catch in traffic for a 21 yard gain and then Jonathan George took a screen pass 26 yards and Kentucky was in business. After a short pass to King, Craig McIntosh booted a 47 yard FG and Kentucky took a 17-7 halftime lead.
Max Smith had an incredible first half, going 19-25 for 190 yards and a TD and Raymond Sanders had 7 carries for 87 yards. The man of the half however, was none other than Aaron Boyd who had 7 catches for 73 yards and a TD. Kentucky led Kent State in yardage 280-200 and seemed to be able to move the ball at will. The Kentucky defense was still the weak part as Kent State racked up131 yards on the ground. Simply put, this has to get better before Kentucky gets into SEC play, but it is good to have an offense that can erase some errors by the defense.
The defense apparently took the half off as well as Kent State had no problem on their opening drive of the second half. Trayion Durham rumbled his way to a 26 yard TD run that capped a 9 play, 75 yard drive. Once again, it was a game at 17-14. If Kentucky was to win this game, they had to rely on their offense and that they did.