KENTUCKY @ VANDERBILT | Comeback falls short as Cats lose 21-17
11/14/2015 04:01 PM
NASHVILLE, TN — In a game of countless missed opportunities, Kentucky’s’ second-half rally came up short at Vanderbilt, falling 21-17 to extend the Wildcats’ losing streak to five straight games.
After starting the season 4-1, Kentucky now finds itself 4-6 overall, 2-6 in the SEC, and must win its last two games at home against Charlotte and archrival Louisville in order to become bowl eligible for the first time in five seasons.
The loss also drops the Wildcats to last place in the SEC East.
A few takeaways from the disappointing defeat:
Overall, not much of anything.
The defense did perform well at times, especially in the second half, holding the Commodores scoreless over the final two quarters.
But Vanderbilt, a team who entered Saturday’s matchup averaging only 14.8 points per game (third worst in FBS), topped that average by halftime and finished the night with over 300 yards of offense (301) for the first time in its last four games.
The Commodores also burned the UK defense for a 37-yard trick play touchdown pass just seconds before halftime to take a 21-10 lead into the locker room in what ended up being the winning score of the game.
Stanley “Boom” Williams flashed his game-breaker potential at times in his first action since injuring his elbow in the first half against Tennessee on Oct. 31. The sophomore running back finished with 115 yards on 15 carries, including runs of 38 and 67 yards. Fellow running back Jojo Kemp also performed well when given touches, rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Barker took his first meaningful snaps of the season, replacing starter Patrick Towles in the second quarter to go 3/3 for 57 yards on his first drive, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Timmons to give UK a temporary 10-7 lead. It was Barker’s first touchdown of his collegiate career, and he followed it up with another one on the Wildcats’ next possession, except this time it was a 30-yard pick-six to give Missouri back the lead.
It was a calamity of errors for the offense and special teams:
- Two touchdown drops on the opening possession (Timmons, Garrett Johnson)
- Stopped for no points after having 1st-and-Goal from the 1-yard line
- Interception on 2nd-and-Goal from the 4-yard line (Patrick Towles)
- Fumble at its own 4-yard line (Williams)
- Delay of game penalty that resulted in a missed 37-yard field goal (Austin MacGinnis)
- Allowing a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter
Starting quarterback Patrick Towles finished 10/26 for 67 yards and the aforementioned interception in the redzone. It was the redshirt junior’s third consecutive game completing under 50% of his passes (38.5%) and sixth straight game with an interception.
Simply put, Vanderbilt did not win the game on Saturday night; Kentucky lost it, and the Wildcats’ bowl chances are now in serious jeopardy.
Kentucky will try to get back on track next Saturday at home against the Charlotte 49ers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium.