September 23, 2017
Gators have beaten the Wildcats 30 straight times, dating to 1986.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Florida started the second half with a three-and-out. Kentucky followed that with a go-ahead touchdown drive.
Stephen Johnson’s third touchdown pass of the night was a 23-yard to right end C.J. Conrad, who ran uncovered up the middle seam of the UF secondary to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead over the No. 20 Gators in their Saturday night Southeastern Conference showdown at Kroger Field.
The UK scoring drive was a quick one — four plays, 62 yards in 1:48 — and marked the third time in the game the Wildcats had a touchdown lead.
The score was tied at 14-all at the time after the Kentucky defense neglected to cover wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland on a fourth-and-3 and Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks made the Wildcats pay. Franks fired a 45-yard touchdown to all-by-himself Cleveland after Florida coach Jim McElwain rolled the dice on a fourth-down gamble that paid off late in the second period. The play came out of a timeout and UK’s defense sent no one out to shadow Cleveland, who was lined up wide to the right. Cleveland caught the ball and outraced a couple defenders to the end zone with 3:16 left in the half.
Kentucky had a chance to take the lead just before intermission, thanks to a couple personal fouls against the UF defense, including a targeting call on lineback Vosean Joseph that, by rule, resulted in his ejection. But back-to-back sacks by UF defensive end Cece Jefferson forced the Wildcats to settle for a 45-yard field-goal attempt from Austin McGinnis. The kick hit the right upright and bounced away with 43 seconds to play in the half.
Johnson’s second touchdown pass of the game, a 9-yarder to wide receiver Garrett Johnson, put the Wildcats up 14-7 on the previous possession. The Johnson-to-Johnson hook came after the Gators, forced to punt from their own 3, got a 54-yard return by Charles Walker to the UF 10. Two plays later, Johnson dropped a perfectly thrown fade over UF defensive back Duke Dawson in the right corner of the end zone with 7:24 to play in the first half.
UK’s go-ahead drive came two possessions after Florida all-purpose man Kadarius Toney took a snap from center and dashed through the Kentucky defense for a 36-yard touchdown. Toney, the true freshman from Eight Mile, Ala., lined up in the “wildcat” formation against the Wildcats on UF’s third possession of the game — and just the second play of the second quarter. Toney went right, slipped through the first line of defense, cut outside and scored untouched for his first career TD.
The play marked UF’s first rushing touchdown since the Georgia game last season, a run of nine games.
Kentucky took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Johnson hit wideout Blake Bone for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Wildcats went 75 yards in eight plays on their second possession of the game, with running back Bennie Snell breaking off a pair of 12-yard runs to key the drive. On the scoring play, UF linebacker Vosean Joseph bit on a pump fake inside, allowing Bone to break free toward the back of the end zone. The throw was perfect for the early lead at the 5:06 mark.
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