Nearly plunging into the quagmire Saturday night, No. 20-ranked Kentucky closed in Florida No. 12 in the second half to score a 26-16 win and continue a turbulent day in college football. While none of the quarterbacks in the game were remarkably effective, Anthony Richardson in the Gators’ appearance was remarkably poor as the Wildcats’ defense rocked it all night to win back-to-back games over their SEC East rivals for the first time since 1976-77.
The victory over Florida also made Mark Stubbs the most winning coach in Kentucky history with 61 wins, more than legend Paul “Bear” Bryant. The ‘Cats’ have now won three of their last five fights against the Gators after losing the previous 31 fights in the competition.
Kentucky trailed 16-7 after scoring the safety by making a quick kick-on-kick late in the second quarter, but the visitors managed to beat the last 19 points of the game, including a 65-yard pick-six by Keidron Smith with 3:25 left in the quarter Third, 26 yards field goal by Matt Ruffolo with 1:24 remaining.
The UK defense ceded just 91 yards to the UF in the second half, many of which came at an inopportune time in the game’s final possession, in one of the most impressive performances during the Stoops tenure.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis hit Dane Key at 55 yards to lead 7-3 early in the second quarter, but Florida scored the next 13 points including an 11-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion reception by Trevor Etienne.
The ‘hasty cats’ attack, which had been largely stagnant in the first half, moved things up recently behind Kavusi Smoke and Laville Wright, as the Florida defense struggled with the physicality of its offensive line. It was the first time the Gators had closed in the second half of a game since 2017 against Michigan.
Richardson entered the game with the hype of Heisman Trophy and the NFL after a thrilling victory over the then-No. 7 Utah last week, but struggled hard on Saturday. Richardson finished 14 of 35 for 143 yards with 2 interceptions and only 4 yards. He has yet to throw a touchdown in either game this season.
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