Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson accounted for three touchdowns, Chris Rodriguez rushed for two scores including a 74-yarder before the Wildcats withstood Vanderbilt‘s late rally to win 38-35 Saturday and end a two-game losing streak.
Rested from a bye and with Wilson back from a one-game absence because of a wrist injury, the Wildcats (3-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) moved the ball at will against the Commodores (0-6, 0-6) with five TDs and a field goal on its first seven possessions. Wilson sandwiched a 32-yard score in the first half between TD passes to tight ends Justin Rigg (15 yard) and Keaton Upshaw (21).
Wilson completed 13 di 15 passes for 110 yards and rushed seven times for 83. Rodriguez rushed 13 times for a career-high 149 yards with TDs of 3 e 74 yard, the last providing a 17-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Chance Poore, playing in place of Matt Ruffolo, kicked a 28-yard field goal.
Kentucky ended up needing that cushion as Vanderbilt answered with Mitchell Pryor’s 2-yard TD run before Ken Seals’ 7-yard scoring pass to Cam Johnson with 30 seconds remaining to get within three. The Wildcats recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. Seals threw for two TDs, while backup Mike Wright accounted for two scores.
Two days after Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman, 45, died of cancer, the Wildcats honored him multiple ways including controlling the line of scrimmage throughout. They initially lined up with just 10 uomini and took a delay of game penalty (declined) just before left tackle Landon Young came on the field wearing Schlarman’s No. 65 worn while playing for Kentucky in the mid-1990s.
IL DA PORTARE
Vanderbilt: The Commodores protected the ball better and moved it well with five long TD drives against the Wildcats. They just had to play from behind from the start because the defense couldn’t stop the Wildcats from scoring at will.
Kentucky: Terry Wilson and the offense showed how rest and healing can help as the Wildcats scored on all four first-half possessions. A defense that has slowed opponents struggled against the Commodores throughout. Poore, playing in place of Matt Ruffolo, ended up providing the difference. Ruffolo and All-America punter Max Duffy were among several players out, though the reason for their absences wasn’t immediately known.
AVANTI IL PROSSIMO
Vanderbilt hosts No. 6 Florida on Saturday, seeking to break a six-game series losing streak to the Gators.
Kentucky visits top-ranked Alabama on Saturday in the first of consecutive challenges against the top-10 SEC teams and leaders. No. 6 Florida looms the next week.