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Florida 28, Kentucky 27: Defensive Miscues Doom Wildcats

The Streak Continues...

NCAA Football: Florida at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

To leave a receiver completely uncovered leading to a touchdown is bad enough, but to do it twice? That’s exactly what Kentucky did tonight towards the end of each half and Florida capitalized on those mistakes to sneak out of Lexington with a 28-27 victory.

Outside of the aforementioned busted coverages, Kentucky largely was the better team. Feleipe Franks was lackluster at quarterback for Florida and was benched in favor of Luke Del Rio in the second half. Del Rio threw an interception on his first series under center, but played throughout the remainder of the second half while leading a pair of fourth quarter touchdown drives.

Not to belabor the busted plays by Kentucky’s defense, but the first came after Kentucky scored to take a 14-7 lead and their defense forced a fourth and three from near midfield. After Florida took a timeout, Kentucky seemed completely disorganized and left no one covering Tyrie Cleveland.

Kentucky missed a field goal on the ensuing drive but the Wildcats responded with scores on three of their first four offensive drives of the second half with a pair of field goals and a Stephen Johnson touchdown pass. With a 27-14 lead and just over 11 minutes remaining, Kentucky should have been coasting. But as is typical with this series, it could not be that easy.

After Florida drove 80 yards in seven plays to score a touchdown and bring the margin to within one score, Kentucky went three and out before Florida’s game winning drive. The Gators converted a pair of fourth down conversions and, after another Florida timeout, Kentucky again lost a receiver as Florida took their first lead of the game with under a minute remaining.

Was there a miracle left in Kentucky to pull the game out and end the long losing streak to Kentucky? No. The Wildcats converted a fourth and ten from near midfield and a Benny Snell run got them down to the 25 yard line, but the run would be brought back for a hold. The game winning field goal attempt for Kentucky was on target but fell short in the end zone as Florida held on to break Kentucky hearts again.

Following last week’s win over South Carolina, whispers were being asked if Mark Stoops had Kentucky turning the corner. This week, there should be shouts about how his coaching staff can be so disorganized to give up those touchdowns coming out of timeouts.