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Kentucky survives rocky first half to defeat Toledo

Kentucky opened the season with a victory on Saturday.

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

For the second straight home opener, a team from the MAC gave the Kentucky Wildcats a scare in the first half.

Last season, it was the Central Michigan Chippewas, who Kentucky led jus 21-20 at halftime before pulling away with a 35-20 win.

Saturday afternoon, it was the Toledo Rockets, who took a 14-14 tie into the locker room before Terry Wilson and the Wildcats took control in the second half for a commanding 38-14 victory.

Replacing Benny Snell on offense and Josh Allen on defense, a sluggish start was to be expected for the Wildcats. Toledo received the opening kickoff and moved the ball with ease as running back Bryant Koback capped off the seven play, 63-yard drive to get the Rockets on the board. The teams would trade possession back and forth until Kentucky mounted a drive near the end of the first quarter, getting to the Toledo 3 before the quarter break. Chris Rodriguez looked to take the ball into the end zone, but fumbled on the goal line. Luckily for the Wildcats, Justin Rigg picked it up and got Kentucky on the board.

The tie would be short-lived as Toledo would march down for a seven play, 75-yard touchdown drive to go back on top before Kentucky knotted it up going into the break.

The second half was a much different story. Led by a strong defensive effort from De’Andre Square, who finished the game with 11 tackles, a sack on third and short to end a Toledo drive, and an interception with eight minutes to go to seal the game, Kentucky was able to get in gear and pull away with the 38-14 victory to move to 1-0 on the season. The one unfortunate note for Kentucky’s defense in the second half was a targeting call on linebacker Chris Oats in the third quarter. The call was upheld after replay, so Oats will miss the first half of next week’s game against Eastern Michigan.

Lynn Bowden led the Wildcats with six receptions for 77 yards, and Terry Wilson completed 19 of 26 passes for 246 yards and had two touchdowns.