The only thing that stopped Kentucky from snapping a 30-year losing streak to Florida was a last-second holding penalty and a coverage blown so badly there was almost no way the Wildcats would make the same mistake twice.
Instead of grabbing a victory over the No. 20 Gators for the first time since 1986, Kentucky crumbled twice in key plays coming out of a timeout and let UF walk out of Lexington with a 28-27 victory that should even have fans in Gainesville blushing.
The Wildcats’ implosion began in the second quarter when out of a timeout UK forgot to cover wide out Tyrie Cleveland on fourth down. The gaffe led to a touchdown for the Gators to tie the game at 14 in the second quarter.
You would think it’d be impossible for Kentucky to ever allow that to happen again for the rest of season. Nope. It took less than 30 minutes of game time for UK to gift wrap another touchdown in the same way.
Oh, and it came with less than a minute remaining in regulation and the Gators down six points.
As a rule, a wide out should never be able to signal that he’s open for a game-winning touchdown before the ball is even snapped. As another rule, defenses should always have 11 men on the field. With the game on the line, Kentucky only had 10. It’s not hard to imagine where an extra defender would’ve come in handy here.
Miraculously, this wasn’t how the game ended. No, reality was much more cruel to Kentucky. The Wildcats were able to barely get the ball back into field goal range with six seconds left on the clock before getting called for a holding while trying to line up the kick. The 10-yard penalty pushed the Cats out of range and cost them a potential game-winning kick.
Keep in mind the Wildcats had pushed Florida into desperation mode throughout the game. Starting quarterback Feleipe Franks was benched after three series and backup Luke Del Rio never looked comfortable running the offense. Del Rio finished the day going 9-for-14 with 74 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Gators were out-matched on the field. Only the Wildcats could take themselves out of the game. They found a way to do just that.
After 30 years of heartbreaking losses to Florida, Kentucky might have finally reached rock bottom in Year 31.
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