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After a slow start, the Kentucky offense caught fire in the second half, propelling the Wildcats to victory over Kent State, 47-14.
Key players: Aaron Boyd (yes, you read that right) had a monster game, more than doubling his career output with 11 catches and 100 yards on the night. Raymond Sanders recorded his first career 100 yard rushing game, finishing with 115 yards on 13 carries. Maxwell Smith continued his stellar play, 30 of his 39 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
Turning point/key stretch: After a 18 yard touchdown pass from Smith to Gene McCaskill, cornerback Martavius Neloms obliterated Kent State running back Dri Archer, forcing a fumble that gave the Cats possession deep in the Golden Flashes’ territory. Although UK was stopped on fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Archer tripped over his quarterback’s feet in the endzone, resulting in a safety. Three plays later, Johnathan George burst through a hole for 38-yard touchdown run, putting UK ahead by a score of 33-14. The Cats wouldn’t look back.
The good: The Cats’ revamped offense continued to hit its stride, totaling 518 yards and committing zero turnovers. Ten different receivers caught passes. The defense forced its first turnover of the season. A slew of defensive newcomers saw action without any major mishaps.
The bad: The defense continued to struggle in stretches, allowing almost five yards per carry. The announced attendance of 48,346 was the lowest for a season opener since Commonwealth Stadium first opened in 1973 and the lowest for any game since 1996.
What’s next: UK welcomes Western Kentucky to Commonwealth Stadium next Saturday, the final game before the onslaught of SEC foes begins. The Cats defeated the Hilltoppers 14-3 in a sloppy season opener in Nashville last year.
For full coverage from UK’s win against Kent State, check back later at the Kentucky Kernel.