Kentucky football drops final SEC game for second straight loss


Kentucky players get into a yelling match with Tennessee. University of Kentucky football played University of Tennessee at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 in Knoxville, TN. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

KNOXVILLE, TN. – Kentucky football traveled to Neyland Stadium on Saturday looking to right the ship after its loss to Georgia, but instead it fell more off-course as the Cats were defeated by the Vols 24-7.

Nothing went right for the Wildcats, as the offense only managed 262 yards of production while the defense surrendered 412 yards to the Vols. This was the second consecutive game that Kentucky gave up over 400 yards of offense after giving up no more than 350 yards in two of the first eight games.

Tennessee was able to shut out Kentucky in the first half as the score was 17-0 at the halftime break. Tennessee ended the half with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jarrett Guarantano to Marquez Callaway as the clock struck zero.

Guarantano’s 39-yard touchdown pass was one of seven chunk plays of at least 20 yards that Tennessee completed. Tennessee’s longest play of the day, a 59-yard run from Jordan Murphy, set up the Vols near the end zone for Guarantano’s second touchdown pass of the afternoon, a two-yard strike to Dominick Wood-Anderson.

Wood-Anderson’s touchdown made it 24-0 in favors of the Vols with 7:49 remaining in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Kentucky had two chunk plays of at least 20 yards. The first was a 20-yard pass from Terry Wilson to Tavin Richardson, which setup the Wildcats for a 19-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to C.J. Conrad for Kentucky’s first points of the afternoon, with 1:56 remaining the third quarter.

Aside from Tennessee’s touchdown drive in the third quarter, Kentucky’s defense contained the Vols in the second half. The Wildcats forced three three-and-outs and two fumbles out of Tennessee’s eight second half offensive drives.

The first fumble was forced and recovered by linebacker Chris Oats early in the fourth quarter. The second fumble was forced by linebacker DeAndre Square and recovered by defensive lineman Calvin Taylor to set up Kentucky at its 35-yard line with 7:06 remaining, trailing by 17.

However, Kentucky’s offense was unable to capitalize on all the opportunities it was given. Following Oats’ forced fumble, Wilson had a fumble of his own to immediately give Tennessee the ball back.

When Kentucky came back out on offense following Square’s forced fumble, Wilson threw his seventh interception of the year to give the Vols the ball back with 4:52 left in the game.

Kentucky’s offense would come back onto the field one more time in the game, with Gunnar Hoak in at quarterback. The drive ended with Hoak throwing an interception.

The loss concludes Kentucky’s SEC schedule with a 5-3 record. Even with dropping its final two conference games, this is the first time since 1977 that Kentucky has achieved five SEC wins.

Kentucky will look to avoid its third straight loss when the Cats host Middle Tennessee for senior day. Kickoff is at noon.