Kentucky football: Wildcat defense freezes Penguins in long overdue shutout

Kavosiey Smoke of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Kavosiey Smoke of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Kentucky football
Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Carrington Valentine (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

The defense was rock solid but I’ll give the game ball to Carrington Valentine

You would be hard-pressed to find much fault with this Kentucky defense who has completely bought into the Brad White defensive mentality. They don’t give up big chunk plays, play smart, and don’t get flagged for a lot of penalties.

Head coach Mark Stoops praised them at halftime and after the game for their sold efforts.

Alex Afari Jr. led the defense with five tackles, followed by Jordan Wright and Jacquez Jones with four each while the team as a whole had 46 tackles and six for a loss, and two sacks for a loss of 21 yards.

But I’ll hand out my game ball to junior cornerback Carrington Valentine who came up with two huge pass breakups in the third quarter, with the second resulting in an interception.

Valentine preserved UK’s shutout in the end zone on back-to-back drives early in the third quarter. He even picked on his former teammate Bryce Oliver by ripping the ball away from him in the endzone after everyone thought Oliver had caught the ball.

On the next Youngstown State drive, he tipped the ball into the air and snared it himself for the interception and the shutout remained intact.

Kentucky stays home in the Bluegrass hosting Northern Illinois next Saturday at Kroger Field with kickoff set for 7 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN2.