UK kicks off to start the game and South Carolina would own great field position at their own 32. On the first play of the game S.C. QB Jake Bentley hit Deebo Samuel for a 68 yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 Gamecock lead just 13 seconds in to the contest. Just 35 seconds later, S.C. picked off a Stephen Johnson pass and took over at the UK 39 yard line. After S.C. drive stalled, UK returned the favor with a Mike Edwards interception at the UK14 yard line. UK would drive the ball down the field and punch it in on a Benny Snell touchdown run at the 1:05 mark in the first quarter. The touchdown culminated a 13 play 75 yard drive. UK took the lead 7-6 with the extra point.
Stephen Johnson recovered nicely from his interception going 9 of 12 for 96 yards. Benny Snell ran the ball 6 times for 16 yards and a score. On the flip side, S.C. QB Jake Bentley was 1 of 7 for 7 yards after his opening 68 yard touchdown pass including his interception. Gamecock running back Rico Dowdle carried the ball 4 times for 17 yards in the 1st quarter.
UK would get the ball back at the 14:09 mark in 2nd quarter after forcing South Carolina to punt. The Wildcats would march 11 plays for 67 yards with a 1 yard touchdown by Benny Snell from the Wildcat formation for a 14-6 UK lead. UK’s defense after the opening 68 yard touchdown pass by South Carolina, had held the Gamecocks to 39 yards midway through the 2nd quarter. The Wildcats by contrast had 181 total yards. UK would go in to the half with a 14 -6 lead after SC missed their 2nd field goal of the game at the end of the half.
UK total offense 202
SC total offense 186
UK Passing – Stephen Johnson 12 of 17 for 130 and 1 int.
SC Passing – Jake Bentley 7 of 14 for 144 with 1 touchdown and 1 Int.
UK Rushing – Benny Snell 14 carries for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns
SC Rushing – Rico Dowdle 6 carries for 22 yards
UK Receiving – Garrett Johnson 4 Receptions for 41 yards
SC Receiving – Deebo Samuel 3 Receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown
Coach Stoops said he expected the 2nd half to be a tough 30 minute stretch.
UK would continue their staunch defense and on offense pounding away at the Gamecock defense. Midway through the 3rd quarter, UK was an astounding 8 of 10 on 3rd downs. UK would kick a FG at the 5:25 mark after a 12 play 42 yard drive to take a 17-6 lead. SC QB Jake Bentley hit on 16 straight pass attempts to move the Gamecocks deep in UK territory before missing on an attempt to Deebo Samuel. SC would go for it on 4 and a yard on UK’s 1 yard line. Kentucky would hold for the second time in the game and get the ball back on downs. UK, however could not capitalize on the great defensive play. Both teams would trade possessions before UK would kick another FG at the 8:59 mark of the 4th QTR finishing a 6 play 49 yard drive that gave UK a 20-6 lead.
South Carolina showed they weren’t finished as Jake Bentley hit OrTre Smith on a 9 yard touchdown pass on 4th down cutting the Wildcat lead to 20-13 with 6:26 on the clock. The drive took 7 plays for 77 yards. The Wildcats now had the added problem of the 80,000 plus South Carolina fans screaming for their beloved Gamecocks. The Cats methodically tried to move the ball and kill as much time on the clock as possible to keep South Carolina’s offense off the field. Stephen Johnson then broke off a 54 yard run down to the South Carolina 10 yard line. This would set up UK for another FG. The drive lasted 9 plays for 77 yards at the 2:07 mark of the 4th QTR for a 23-13 lead. South Carolina tried to generate some offense but UK’s Derrick Baity had other plans as he picked off Jake Bentley’s pass to seal the win for the UK Wildcats.