UK VS. UL-LAFAYETTE | Cats lose big lead, hold on for 40-33 victory to open the 2015 season

09/05/2015 10:32 PM

LEXINGTON — After squandering what was a 21-0 lead, Big Blue Nation held its breath down the stretch as the Kentucky football team survived a second half rally to defeat Louisiana Lafayette 40-33 on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

Junior quarterback Patrick Towles finished 16-34 for 257 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception to lead the offense but struggled mightily in the second half as the Ragin’ Cajuns fought their way back into the game.

Senior running back Torrey Pierce finished with 110 yards rushing for UL-Lafayette, including two long touchdown runs of 56 and 23 yards in the second half to spark some life on the Ragin’ Cajun sideline.

After taking a 24-3 lead into halftime, UK was outscored 30-16 in the second half and found itself tied 33-33 with 7:36 left in the game after Pierce’s second touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion.

But the Cats finally woke up in the final minutes, forcing a huge three-and-out and punt on defense with 4:37 left. Kentucky then ran clock with a nine-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off with a bruising 12-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Mikel Horton to reclaim a 40-33 lead with only 0:57 left to play.

UK avoided near disaster earlier in that final drive when on fourth-and-one near midfield, Towles fumbled the exchange from center but somehow managed to recover the ball and move forward just enough to convert the crucial first down and keep the drive alive.

UL-Lafayette did have one last chance to tie the game in the final minute, but junior linebacker Josh Forrest intercepted a last-second Hail Mary short of the goaline on the final play of the game to secure the victory and a 1-0 start to the season.

Other Notes:

  • Sophomore running back Stanley “Boom” Williams finished the game with 127 rushing yards on just eight carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run on Kentucky’s first offensive play of the game. It was the third time breaking the century mark at UK and second consecutive going back to last season’s finale against Louisville.
  • Sophomore kicker Austin MacGinnis set a new UK record with 10 consecutive field goals made altering converting a 44 yarder in the second quarter to extend Kentucky’s lead to 24-3. He would make another attempt from 24 yards in the third quarter to extend the record to 12 before ending the streak a few minutes later by missing from 46 yards. MacGannis also missed a PAT attempt in the third quarter — the first miss of his UK career after converting his previous 44 attempts.
  • Junior cornerback J.D. Harmon was the star of the defense, recovering a fumble in the first quarter, intercepting a pass deep in UK territory right before halftime, and even added a 60-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.

Scroll below for a Big Blue Nation’s Twitter reaction during Kentucky’s up-and-down victory to open the 2015 season:


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