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Florida Gators 14, Kentucky Wildcats 9: UF Defense Extends Record Win Streak

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For the 29th straight year, Florida has defeated Kentucky.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators leaned on their defense to hang on late and defeat the Kentucky Wildcats 14-9.

The UK defense forced a three-and-out to begin the game, but a Patrick Towles interception set the Gators up 19 yards from the end zone. They cashed that in for a touchdown with a Will Grier one-yard run. UK would answer immediately with a 14-play field goal drive. Florida had a chance to extend its lead in the second quarter when Austin Hardin nailed a field goal, but a penalty negated it and the Wildcats blocked subsequent attempt. UF would get a touchdown on its next drive when Kelvin Taylor ran it in from three yards out. That would make the halftime score 14-3.

Momentum swung in the second half when Grier threw an end zone interception midway through the third quarter. The Wildcats drove 75 yards down the field for a field goal to cut the lead to 14-6. After forcing a three-and-out, they would get another field goal on the next drive to make it 14-9. Florida ran nearly four minutes off of the clock with its next possession, but it had to punt.

On the potential game winning drive, Towles hit a big completion to Dorian Baker to on 4th-and-3 that set the 'Cats up near midfield. After two incompletions, though, Towles took a sack that lost 12 yards. A false start then set up 4th-and-27, and Towles's desperation throw got picked off to seal the game for Florida.

The game wasn't an offensive masterpiece for either team, in no small part because both offensive lines looked pretty bad. Grier led the Gators in rushing with 69 yards on ten carries (excluding sacks), many of them scrambles on plays where protection broke down. The Gator running backs Taylor and Jordan Cronkrite combined for just 2.6 yards per carry. Florida sacked the less mobile Towles six times for 50 yards' worth of losses, and the Wildcat running backs combined for 3.7 yards per carry on 33 rushes.

Grier appears to have nailed down the QB1 role for Florida, as he went the distance despite appearing to be in some discomfort with his ribs or a pectoral muscle. He was sharper in the first half than the second, although he mostly looked better at dealing with pressure than he did the past two weeks.

Kentucky and its fans were ready for this to be the first year since 1986 that the 'Cats would beat the Gators on the gridiron, but it was not to be. Florida's defense proved to be the best unit on the field, and it held the day as the Kentucky defense found its footing against UF's attack. The Gators have plenty of work to do before meeting up with Tennessee in a week, while Kentucky has a chance to pick up a second SEC win against Missouri and its lifeless offense in another home game next Saturday.