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Kentucky Kernel

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At the whistle: Kentucky football suffers 49-21 defeat in home finale against No. 8 Alabama

Kentucky wide receivers Barion Brown and Tayvion Robinson celebrate after a touchdown during the Kentucky vs. Alabama football game on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Kentucky football (6-4) suffered a 49-21 defeat against No. 8 Alabama on Saturday, ending the home slate for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats entered the game on the back of a 24-3 win away at Mississippi State, which snapped the “Starkville streak” for the Cats and head coach Mark Stoops.

Returning to Kroger Field for their final home game of the season, which also served as “senior day,” the Cats were faced with one of their toughest tests all season: a red hot Alabama squad still seeking a spot in the SEC Championship and College Football Playoffs.

Kentucky won the opening coin toss and opted to defer to the second half, putting the Crimson Tide on the attack first.

The Tide nearly suffered a calamitous loss on their opening drive when quarterback Jalen Milroe appeared to down with an injury, but the starter quickly made his return to the game just one play later.

Milroe’s return would prove to benefit the Tide who, just a few plays later, scored the first touchdown of the night on a passing play.

Kentucky would not be as lucky on its opening drive as Devin Leary was sacked for nine yards, forcing the Cats to punt the ball away when faced with a fourth-and-15.

Back on defense,  Kentucky managed to force a third-and-12, but Milroe appeared unfazed, easily adding to the Alabama lead.

Kentucky would dig its own hall just that much deeper on the very next drive, fumbling on the first play and allowing the Tide to extend the lead to three touchdowns.

The Wildcats didn’t just roll over and die, however, capitalizing on an Alabama muffed punt and bad penalty to find not only their first first down of the night but the endzone as well.

Kentucky came back out on defense motivated and forced Alabama to punt for the first time in the game.

The joy would be short-lived however as, one punt later, the Tide was back in the endzone.

While both teams would trade interceptions, a turnover on downs on the Alabama 13-yard line by Kentucky and the lack of aggressive play calling prior the half would see both teams fail to add points before halftime.

Coming out of the break, Kentucky sought to make the most of its first possession and methodically marched down the field before finding the endzone.

Unfortunately for the home fans remaining in attendance, Alabama was determined to prevent Kentucky from gaining significant momentum and, after converting a third-and-18, found the endzone as well.

While Kentucky managed to escape the third quarter without allowing further points, the Tide began the fourth quarter with a second-and-one on the UK one-yard line. With just one yard to go and three attempts, Alabama had little trouble punching it in for seven more.

As Kentucky fans poured out of the stadium in droves, more red littered the confines of Kroger Field than home UK blue as the Tide faithful could be heard over any Wildcat chants.

Milroe’s night came to an end in the fourth quarter with backup Ty Simpson entering the game, but even that wasn’t enough to end the scoring for the Tide as Simpson handed it off to Jamarion Miller for another seven points.

The Wildcats did manage to reach the endzone on their next drive, though the score was already well out of reach by that point.

After the touchdown the Tide would opt to run the clock, leading to the lack of change in score prior to the final whistle. Kentucky backup Kaiya Sheron would briefly see the field in the fourth, but there was nothing the sophomore from Somerset, Kentucky, could do.

The Wildcats will finish out the season with two road tests, first traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, to face off against the Gamecocks. That game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 18. The game will air live on the SEC Network.

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Cole Parke, Sports Editor

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