It was Senior Day at Kroger Field for a group of guys that has had a tremendous amount of success and accomplished a lot for this program during their time.
Also, Josh Pascal was able to make his first appearance of the season after his battle with malignant melanoma on his foot. A great sight to see and I know all of BBN was thrilled to see him overcome that hurdle and make it back onto the football field.
The Cats got off to a great start when senior Mike Edwards came up with an interception and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown giving the Cats an early 7-0 lead.
Edwards backed up the INT on the next possession when he forced a fumble to give the Cats the ball back, which allowed Benny Snell to take it in from 7 yards out putting the Cats up 14-0.
After a FG and a Middle Tennessee touchdown, the Cats drive back down the field, and Terry Wilson hit CJ Conrad for an 11-yard TD pass, a good answer by the Cats making it 24-7.
The Cats ended the half only allowing MTSU another FG, as Kentucky took a 24-10 lead into the break.
After the break, the Cats were somewhat disappointing to say the least, as they went back to their conservative offense, and the defense didn’t play up to their standards, and it allowed Middle Tennessee to climb back into this one.
Benny Snell took it in from 6 yards out to make it 31-10. However, MTSU drove down the field and punched it in to make it 31-16 after the missed PAT.
Kentucky was forced to punt and MTSU went down the field again to make it 31-23 with most of the 4th quarter left.
After Josh Allen got a sack on 4th down later in the quarter, Kentucky’s offense had a short field to work with and burn some clock before senior Mile Butler made it a two-score game with a 32-yard FG to make it 34-23.
The defense stepped up in a big way as back to back sacks by Allen and Boogie Watson caused a turnover on downs, and the Cats held on to win it 34-23.
Thoughts on the game
UK FINALLY used CJ Conrad
For the last four years, the fanbase has been begging Stoops to go to CJ more in the passing game, and he used him more than usual today, as he had 4 receptions for 51 yards and a TD.
It’s upsetting that it took this long for us to see Conrad get heavy involvement in the passing game, but it was refreshing to see it. Hopefully, this continues over the final two games and helps CJ boost his NFL stock.
Terry Wilson was very solid
Wilson has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism this season. However, he doesn’t deserve any after the way he played today. He finished 10/14 for 121 yards and a TD. He also ran the ball 5 times for 27 yards.
What stood out the most to me were the reads that Wilson made. He did a good job of recognizing the defense on the RPOs and pulling the ball to hit CJ over the middle several times. He deserves a lot of credit for the performance he had today.
Benny Snell looked more like himself
The last few weeks has been a bit of a struggle for Snell compared to what we are used to seeing.
In this one he looked like he did at the beginning of the year as he finished with 116 yards and 2 TDs while averaging over 4 yards a carry.
That is the Benny Snell that we are used to seeing on the field, which may have been the final time at Kroger Field today, as the NFL appears to be in his near future.
Mike Edwards had a big Senior Day
Edwards came out looking to have a big day in his final home game and that is exactly what he did. He had a pick-six right out of the gate, forced a fumble, and made some huge tackles down the stretch that saved a MTSU touchdown.
After struggling the last two weeks it was good to see Edwards get back in a groove and look like the Mike Edwards, we all are used to seeing every week.
Josh Allen sets the sack record
We all know just how good Josh Allen is, and he continued that excellence today.
He came into this one needing one sack to set the career sack record at UK and he finished with two sacks giving him 27.5 for his career an outstanding career at that.
Next week the Cats will make a short road trip to face the Louisville Cardinals who have been a disaster this season. That game will be at 7:00 PM on ESPN2.
Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Information
- Kentucky is 8-3. Middle Tennessee is 7-4, with today ending a four-game winning streak
- Kentucky leads the series 3-0.
- Next for the Wildcats: UK ends the regular season Sat. Nov. 24 at Louisville. The game is at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
What the Win Means for Kentucky
- Kentucky’s 8-3 record is the team’s best in 34 years, since the 1984 team went 8-3 in the regular season.
- This is the just the fourth time in the last 57 years that UK has won at least eight regular-season games, also 1976 (eight regular-season wins), 1977 (10) and 1984 (eight).
- UK has tied or improved its record every season since Mark Stoops became head coach in 2013.UK won two games in 2012, the season before Stoops arrived, followed by two wins in 2013, five in 2014 and ’15, seven in 2016 and ’17 and eight in 2018.
- UK is the only team in the nation to tie or improve its win-loss record in each of the last six seasons, including this year.
- UK went 6-1 at home this season, tying the school record for most home wins since Commonwealth Stadium/Kroger Field opened in 1973. UK also won six home games in 1976 (6-1) and 2006 (6-1).
- Kentucky recognized 16 seniors in pregame ceremonies. Today marked their 27th win over the last four seasons, tying for fourth-most of any senior class since freshmen became eligible in 1972.
- Kentucky is 17-8 over the last 25 regular-season games, best 25-game regular-season stretch since Nov. 6, 1976 through the end of the 1978 season (17-7-1).
- Coach Mark Stoops now has 26 home wins at Kentucky, moving past Rich Brooks for third most in Commonwealth Stadium/Kroger Field history. Jerry Claiborne won 32 home games and Fran Curci won 29.
- Kentucky is now 53-7-1 in Commonwealth Stadium/Kroger Field history vs. teams currently comprising the “Group of Five.”
- Kentucky scored 17 points in the first quarter, most since tallying 21 in the first quarter of the 2016 season opener vs. Southern Mississippi.
- The Kentucky defense forced turnovers on the first two possessions. The last time UK did that was vs. Louisville in 2015. UK turned the turnovers into 14 points – Mike Edwards’ 66-yard interception return for a TD, following by a 50-yard drive that was capped by Benny Snell’s seven-yard touchdown run.
- This is the first time since 1986 that UK has allowed 34 points or less in each of the first 11 games.
- UK has allowed 185 points this season, fewest in the first 11 games of a season since 1979 (143 points in 11 games).
- UK set season highs with 11 tackles for loss, including seven quarterback sacks. That’s the most for UK in a game since tallying 12 TFLs and seven sacks last season in the win over Tennessee.
- UK scored in every quarter for the third time this season, first time since the win over Murray State.
- Kentucky is now 8-0 this season when having more rushing yards than the opponent, 0-3 when not outrushing the opponent.
- UK scored a touchdown on the first offensive possession of both halves today, second time this season (also at Florida).
- The UK defense came up with two fourth-down stops with the game on the line in the fourth quarter – the first by Josh Allen with MTSU driving for a potential tying score, and the second by Jamar “Boogie” Watson with the Blue Raiders poised at the UK 10-yard line.
- UK limited Middle Tennessee to 4 of 12 on third downs today, 33.3 percent. UK has held the opponent under 42 percent on third downs in eight of 11 games.
- MTSU threw for 293 yards today, but UK has held all 11 opponents to 293 passing yards or fewer for the first time since 2009.
- UK’s game captains were TE C.J. Conrad, OT George Asafo-Adjei, LB Josh Allen and S Mike Edwards.
- Sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson completed 10 of 14 passes for 121 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He added 27 rushing yards.He has completed at least 60 percent of his passes in nine of 11 games this season.
- Junior running back Benny Snell Jr. rushed 26 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns.This was his fifth 100-yard game of the season and 17th of his career, one behind UK career leader Sonny Collins.Snell has at least 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns in each of the three Senior Days that he has been on the team.
- Has 3,629 career rushing yards, remaining in second place in UK history and advancing to 17th place in SEC history.He is seventh in SEC history in rushing yardage prior to a senior season.
- Snell scored the 43rd and 44th rushing touchdowns of his career. He is tied for fifth in SEC history in rushing touchdowns.He passed Tim Tebow of Florida for the second-most rushing TDs prior to senior season in SEC history.
- Senior tight end C.J. Conrad led the Wildcat receivers today, posting season highs with four catches for 51 yards, including an 11-yard TD catch.It was his third touchdown reception of the season and 12th of his career.
- It is the second-most TD receptions by a tight end in UK history, one behind James Whalen, who had 13 from 1997-99.
- He has TD catches in consecutive games for the second time of his career, also the first two games of 2017.
- Sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Epps had a career-high three catches, good for 24 yards.
- Senior safety Mike Edwards had opened the scoring with a 66-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first defensive possession of the game.It was Edwards’ second pass interception of the season. With 10 pickoffs in his career, he ties Larry Carter (1977-79), Buzz Burnam (1970-72) and Marcus McClinton (2004-08) for fourth place in UK history.
- It was Edwards’ second “pick six” of his career. He had a 20-yard interception return for a TD against Charlotte in 2015.
- He is the sixth player in school history with at least two interception returns for a touchdown.
- It was Kentucky’s first interception return for a TD since Marcus McWilson vs. Mississippi State in 2016.
- It was UK’s longest interception return for a TD since Josh Forrest’s 81-yarder vs. Louisville in 2015.
- On the second defensive series, Edwards notched the 300th tackle of his career, then caused a fumble that was recovered by sophomore safetyDavonte Robinson.Edwards finished the day with 12 tackles, including two for loss.
- He now has 311 career tackles, becoming the 19th player in school history to reach 300.
- It was the second caused fumble of his career.
- For Robinson, it is his second fumble recovery of the season and career.
- Senior linebacker Josh Allen had a career-high 15 tackles, including a pair of quarterback sacks for -12 yards.He has 13 sacks on the season, breaking Dennis Johnson’s single-season record of 12 from 2001.
- He has 27.5 sacks in his career, breaking Oliver Barnett’s career record of 26 from 1986-89.
- Eleven of Allen’s 13 sacks this season have been in the second half, three in the third quarter and eight in the fourth quarter.
- One of his sacks came on fourth down, ending an MTSU drive that could have tied the game.
- UK has not allowed a point this season on all 13 opponent possessions that Allen has a sack.
- His 15 tackles today are the most for a senior on Senior Day since Micah Johnson (16) in 2009.
- Sophomore Quentin Bohanna and senior cornerback Chris Westry each made his first career quarterback sack.
- Sophomore defensive end Josh Paschal saw his first action of the season today and started the game. He missed the first 10 games of the season while undergoing three surgeries and ongoing immunotherapy for a malignant melanoma on the bottom of his foot.
- Senior kicker Miles Butler made both field goal attempts, 38 and 32 yards, along with all four extra points.
- Junior tight end Justin Rigg and true freshman offensive tackle Darian Kinnard made their first collegiate starts. Rigg had a 29-yard catch that is the longest of his career.