Kentucky is 3-0 for a second straight season after defeating Murray State by a final score of 48-10 at Kroger Field.
Kentucky put their foot on the accelerator right away after winning the coin toss and electing to receive. Terry Wilson was a perfect 2/2 throwing including hitting CJ Conrad for 13 yards on the drive’s opening play. After seven plays that included 15 Benny Snell rushing yards, Wilson sprinted to the end zone for a 42-yard score to put Kentucky on the board.
Wilson gave all the credit for the score to his blockers.
“My receivers did a great job of blocking for me, so I just made a cut and got into the end zone. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Terry Wilson shoes that blazing speed for the long scramble touchdown. pic.twitter.com/FSYHE81k5V— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 15, 2018
The score stayed 7-0 heading into the second quarter after Kentucky’s defense held their own to force a punt.
Thanks to a shanked punt from punter Steve Dawson, Kentucky opened the second quarter from the Murray State 36.
Snell ran for 23 yards on the drive’s first four plays to set the Cats up at the Murray State 13. The drive seemed destined for the end zone, but a Lynn Bowden reverse run went the wrong way, and Kentucky could not convert on third and long.
Instead of a touchdown, Miles Butler finally got his chance to kick a field goal, and he knocked it through from 40 yards out to give Kentucky a 10-0 lead.
Butler said it felt good to finally get his chance.
“It did feel good. We did not have a field goal this year, so it was nice to trot out there and put one through.”
Murray State got into Kentucky territory for the first time on their opening drive of the second quarter. The drive was aided by pass interference penalties on both Mike Edwards and Chris Westry. Luckily, the Murray State drive fizzled out after they failed to pick up a first down on a fourth down from the Kentucky 36-yard line.
After getting the ball back, Kentucky’s offense showed some sloppy play.
The drive started backed up due to a Luke Fortner holding call.
Then, Terry Wilson fumbled, which was recovered by Fortner but pushed the Cats back even further.
Luckily, Wilson was able to connect with Bowden for 25 which set up a fourth and one first-down run for Wilson.
The sloppy play wasn’t over yet, however. Dorian Baker dropped an easy pass that would have been a 54-yard touchdown.
Despite the drop, the Cats continued to show resilience. Snell ran the ball 12 yards moving the Cats inside the Murray State 30.
The Cats would move into the red zone after a five-yard CJ Conrad reception and a pair of Wilson runs for seven yards.
Set up at the seven-yard line, it was Benny time.
Snell punched in a seven-yard run touchdown run. For Snell, it was touchdown run No. 3 on the season and 35 for his career. The run gave Kentucky a 17-0 lead.
The 17-0 lead was quickly shortened as the Racers raced down the field at the end of the half.
Murray State quarterback Drew Anderson hit his receiver Malik Honeycutt for 26 yards on a jump ball with Kash Daniel. Then on the very next play, Anderson hit Corey Newble for 30 yards, setting the Racers up at the Kentucky 6-yard line.
Luckily for Kentucky Murray State was unable to find the end zone. A false start penalty ran time off the clock and forced them into kicking a field goal. Kentucky took a 17-3 lead into the halftime locker room.
After Murray State opened the half with a three and out, the Cats gambled on their opening drive of the half and went for it on fourth and one from their own 33, but it paid off thanks to a Wilson first-down run.
Wilson continued to push the Cats down the field, breaking a 21-yard run to get into Murray State territory.
The drive, however, would run out of steam at the Murray State 20-yard line. Butler came in and knocked through a 38-yarder to give the Cats a 20-3 lead.
After the Kentucky defense again forced Murray State three and out, Wilson and Bowden began to play pitch and catch.
Wilson hit Bowden on back to back plays, one for 24 yards the second for 20. This helped set the Cats up with first and goal. For Bowden, it was a day to remember as he racked up a carer high 89 yards.
“I told Terry to trust me. If he gave me a chance I’d make him look good,” said Bowden after the game.
A.J. Rose took it from there as he bounced a three-yard run into the end zone for his third touchdown of the year. The Cats took a 27-3 lead.
Later in the quarter, Snell made the play of the day.
Snell took the snap, reversed the ball to Wilson who, then reserved the ball to Zy'Aire Hughes, who took it to the house for a 43-yard touchdown on his first career touch from scrimmage, which gave the Cats a 34-3 lead. The play was scored as a Snell passing touchdown.
Snell talked with a big grin about finding out he was given credit for the touchdown pass.
“I was happy. They told me on the sideline, and I was like I needed that.”
Zy'Aire Hughes takes it in on the double reverse. pic.twitter.com/9NonuA8WBj— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 15, 2018
Despite this play, Kentucky’s defense was the story of the third quarter. The Cats did not allow a single first down, forcing Murray State three and out on three possessions.
With a big lead in the fourth quarter, Kentucky was able to get Gunnar Hoak some action.
Hoak did not disappointment after hitting Cleaven Thomas for a 40 yard gain Hoak connected with freshman Allen Dailey Jr. for a 23-yard touchdown. It was Dailey’s first career touchdown as the Cats took a 41-3 lead.
Great effort by Allen Dailey Jr to break tackles and shrug off a face mask to score his first touchdown. pic.twitter.com/MMuFWhCBPy— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 15, 2018
Head coach Mark Stoops was happy from what he saw from Hoak.
“He had good protection. He hit the open guys and made some big plays.”
The Cats continued to add on as quarterback Danny Clark, whose dad hinted he may transfer away from the University, came in and ran for a two-yard score to make it 48-3.
Danny Clark with the quarterback keeper for his first career touchdown. pic.twitter.com/qoe3kzbQ9s— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 15, 2018
Stoops was thrilled to get a bunch of playing time for freshman and seldom-used reserves.
“It’s good. We don’t get those opportunities a lot, and it’s also good for our starters to maybe get a quarter or two off.”
The fourth quarter also saw the Kentucky defense finally force a turnover. Jamin Davis was able to pick off Murray State backup quarterback Shuler Bentley.
The Cats finished the game on a 31-7 run and won the game 48-10.
Overall, it was a happy Kentucky crew. The team enters their make our break part of the schedule starting next Saturday when they host Mississippi State under the Kroger Field lights.
Now, here’s some more postgame quotes from various Wildcats, courtesy of UK Athletics:
#33, David Bouvier, WR
On getting a “spark” on offense…
“You never want to get plays called back, but you just have to move onto the next one. As long as we win, I don’t care. I don’t care what my stats are.”
On the halftime score…
“It was all player led, Kash (Daniel) and (Derrick) Baity, they stepped up and said, ‘guys we’re a lot better than this,’ and they got us focused to come out stronger in the second half.”
On big plays putting things in motion…
“No matter what game, yes. I knew once Fish (Zy’Aire Hughes) got to the second level he was gone. That man is too fast. When we have big plays like the ones last week, it kills the defensive momentum and it’s great for the offense.”
#1, Lynn Bowden, Jr., WR
On how great of a QB Terry (Wilson) is…
“Fast, and great on the ground and in the air.”
On how Terry’s (Wilson) day was…
“I just told Terry we’re going to play this game. Trust me, give me a chance and I will make you look good.”
On the team’s mindset…
“We expect to win every game. On my part, I want to be the best person I can.”
#13, Zy’Aire Hughes, WR
On expecting touchdown plays…
“Yeah, I was expecting it. We’ve been practicing all week. It’s actually called “12 Fish” and it’s a play designed for me to get a reverse and basically score. The whole time I’m thinking that I would score, but to me the play is just a reverse to get yardage off of, but I wanted to score.”
On what you saw during the play…
“They say get as wide as possible, but the way our receivers were blocking I saw a hole and that left me no choice but to cut it up and run for the touchdown.”
On limited opportunities due to large amount of receivers…
“Honestly, it’s not, well for me because I know what I’m capable of. If I get in, I know I’ll do something with the ball and with my opportunity. So, it’s not really frustrating, it’s actually kind of good as long as we’re winning.”
#26, Benny Snell, RB
On mindset for next stretch of SEC games…
“Nothing is going to change. We take it game-by-game, opponent-by-opponent, and we’re going to bring that fire. We know what we can do, we know what Kentucky football is. It’s really all about coming out early, offense and defense doing their jobs, they’re (defense) doing a great job getting stops, us getting movement at the o-line and we’re going to keep doing us. We ready.”
On Zy’Aire Hughes’ touchdown…
“Coming out the Wildcat we’ve got Terry coming in motion, I toss it to Terry. I’m the secure block, so I’m the safety guy. Terry tosses it to Zy (Zy’Aire Hughes), I seen him coming around and I was like bet, it’s on. I see a linebacker coming and I know the receiver takes care of the corner. It was good because the safeties were already beat and it was a one-on-one block with me and number six, I gave it to him. I see Zy’Aire (Hughes) has the speed, so I just knew it was money. He’s so fast and with the Wildcat we have in motion and I knew I was going to get that block too. I see Zy’Aire (Hughes) all the time in practice and he works his butt off every day and for that to be his first touchdown, it’s just so much more to come that you guys just haven’t seen.”
On the game next week…
“This is a good opponent. We’re not going to change any plans, everything is different. Defense has to get some stops and we’ve (offense) got to move the ball. They have a good defensive line up front, I know that for sure. So, our o-line is going to be in battle. We’re going to step it up, just like Florida; it’s a big game and we’re going to go into it like it’s a big game.”
#3, Terry Wilson, QB
On a comfortable win…
“It felt great. It starts off another week of preparation and I think we had a good attitude going into this game. We weren’t trying to play down to their level and continued to play how we play. I think we did a good job out there.”
On reverse to Zy’Aire (Hughes)…
“I knew it was going to be a touchdown. I was telling Fish (Zy’Aire Hughes) before the game, I said ‘I’m going to be down there celebrating with you.’ I was excited for my man to get that touchdown, that’s huge, so it was a very good thing for him. Benny (Snell) was talking to me like ‘Yeah that’s my touchdown Terry’ and I’m just like ‘You can have it’ it’s good man we scored, so I’m glad.”
On the 40-yard run…
“I’ve seen the safeties and everybody just dropped out and it was wide open, so I took it. My receivers did a great job on blocking for me, so I just made a cut and got to the end zone. I couldn’t have done it without them (receivers) and I’m proud of that.”
#50, Marquan McCall, Defensive Lineman
On the future of Kentucky’s defense getting to play this game …
“It felt amazing, I felt like we were all in high school again. It was fun. “
On his relationship with DeAndre Square…
“That’s my boy. We said when we came up here, we are going to ball out together and that’s what we’re doing. We’ve known each other since high school, he’s like my brother.”
On the upcoming Mississippi State game,
“I can’t wait. We’re waiting to see what they got and we know going forward what we have as a team. So I’m ready to see how they are going to play.”
On the defense in today’s game,
“Coach was saying don’t let up. It doesn’t matter what team, keep going and have the same intensity as last week and that’s exactly what we did in today’s game.”
#41, Josh Allen, Linebacker
On how the team approached this game after coming off the Florida win …
“After the Florida game, we’re moving on. It was a good team win but we have to move on to the next team. Just like this coming week, we’re going to watch film and then come back to practice Monday with a focus and edge to win game four.”
On the current depth of the team …
“All of us can play, we just have to continue to play together and as one. I feel like we’re working on that and we are getting a lot better this year. “
On seeing his teammates succeed in today’s game …
“I was really happy to see Zy’Aire (Hughes) get that touchdown. It was a good play. He told me he was going to make that play, so I had to hold that to him.”