In a game between two SEC basement-dwellers both desperate for a win, it was the UK offense who made the difference in the fourth quarter, earning the Cats their first win in the SEC this season. Behind three offensive touchdowns in the game’s final 12 minutes, UK (4-5, 1-4 SEC) defeated the Ole Miss Rebels, winless in conference themselves since their win over UK last October, by a score of 30-13 Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium.
“It was a long time coming it feels like,” senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. “We had a lot of letdowns this season, but everybody clicked today and I feel like we showed what we can do when we all click.”
In freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith’s first career start, the Cats came at Ole Miss with the most balanced offensive attack they’ve shown this year. Smith finished 19-36 against Ole Miss, throwing for 283 yards and his first two career touchdown passes. Smith also went his second-consecutive week throwing more than 30 passes without an interception, helping UK finish drives and put more points on the board.
Senior wide receiver Matt Roark continued his resurgence into the offense, recording another seven catches for 116 yards following his 13-catch performance last week. Since Smith took over at quarterback for the Cats, Roark has 20 catches and 232 yards receiving.
“I set an expectation for myself and I have to push myself to meet it every week,” Roark said. “I didn’t really do anything different in practice, just kept going hard and working.”
When asked what Smith has been doing two revive Roark’s season the last two weeks, Roark simply answered: “He’s throwing me the ball.”
But Roark wasn’t the only UK wideout allowed in on the fun. Junior wide receiver La’Rod King also helped his new quarterback Saturday, catching three passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. The Ole Miss defense left King (6’5″ with plenty of jumping ability) in single coverage deep down the field a number of times in the first half, but Smith was not able to find the touch to get him the ball. In the second half, however, Smith found King for completions of 38 (the touchdown completion) and 55 yards, giving the offense the spark it needed to pull away from the Rebels.