For the first night game of the year no one could have asked for better weather. On Saturday September 7 the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Kentucky Wildcats squared off in Kroger Field. UK Football declared it to be Heroes’ Day and orchestrated several ways to honor and show thanks to the men and women who serve in the military as well as in our police and fire departments. For the national anthem, Heroes pulled a giant United States flag across the field. When the Cats took the field they were lead by members of the armed forces.
The game started with a 10 play, 35 yard UK drive that ended with a 35 yard Max Duffy punt which pinned EMU at their own 8 yard line. A fired up UK defense then proceeded to hold EMU to three and out. EMU’s punt was fielded at the UK 45 by Lynn Bowden (UK WR) and returned 29 yards to the EMU 26. Three plays later AJ Rose (UK RB) rushed for an 8 yard touchdown. Chance Poore (UK K) knocked through the extra point with ease putting UK up 7-0 with 6:56 left in the first quarter. On the fifth play of the next UK drive Kentucky was in a Wildcat formation and Bowden threw to Terry Wilson (UK QB) for a 32 yard first down and putting UK with in striking distance. Two plays later Kavosiey Smoke (UK RB) broke off a 32 yard run for a touchdown. Poore hit the PAT and put the Cats up 14-0 with 2:09 left in the first quarter. After Grant McKinniss (UK P) 65 yard kickoff for a touch back EMU started their drive on their own 25. The first play was a pass to Line Latu (EMU WR) for 10 yards, UK’s Cedric Dort (UK DB) forced Latu to fumble, however Latu recovered the loose ball. Three plays later it was 3 and 1 on the EMU 44 when Jordan Wright (UK OL) sacked Mike Glass (EMU QB) for a loss of 13. EMU’s punt went out of bounds at the UK 30 to end the first quarter.
The second quarter started with UK marching up the field in a 13 play 69 yard drive only to end with a Rose fumble inside the EMU 3 yard line. The next play Shaq Vann (EMU RB) would be stopped by Josh Paschal (UK DL) and Quinton Bohanna (UK NG) for no gain. Then on second and 10 from their own 1 yard line Glass put the ball in the air and was intercepted by Jordan Griffin (UK S) and returned 15 yards to the EMU 11. EMU held the Cats to a field goal which was hit home by Poore from 40 out, putting UK up 17-0 with 7:43 left in the half. A few drives later EMU would answer with a 24 yard field goal of their own and the half would end with UK up 17-3.
EMU received the kickoff to start the second half and ended up punting after only 5 plays. UK started their first drive at their own 6 yard line. UK mounted a long marching 15 play drive that culminated in a 2 yard run by Wilson and punctuated by Poore’s PAT, putting UK up 24-3 with 7:47 left in the third. EMU was quick to answer with a 5 play 75 yard touchdown scorning drive making the score UK 24, EMU 10. Bowden returned the subsequent kickoff 37 yards to the UK 38 only to be pulled back by a holding penalty. Then Smoke ran for 9 yards setting up second and 1 for the Cats on their own 37. The next play Wilson ran for 19 yards and was pulled down by a horse-collar tackle. Kroger Field erupted at the foul. What happened next is every coaches, players and fans worst nightmare. Wilson didn’t spring up, but instead clutched his knee in agony. Wilson was carted off giving the fans a thumbs up as he left. Later, tests would show that Wilson tore his patellar tendon and would require season ending surgery. To add salt to the wound UK had 5 men in the backfield which offset the personal foul committed on Wilson. Sawyer Smith (UK QB) entered the game as UK’s new QB and would hand the ball off 3 times to Smoke to end the quarter with UK up 24-10.
UK started the fourth quarter with the ball on their own 45. Smith handed the ball to Smoke for a 1 yard gain. The next play was Smith’s first pass with the Cats. He connected with Ahmad Wagner (UK WR), who despite defensive pass interference, scored a 54 yard touchdown. Poore put away the PAT making the score 31-10 in Kentucky’s favor with 14:20 left in the game. EMU would score after 12 plays later bringing it to 31-17. Kentucky would go on to score again with a 2 yard pass to Bowden making the score 38-17. EMU attempted to close the gap, but after 54 seconds, 8 plays, and 65 yards, they ran out of time.
UK beat EMU 38-17 bringing the Cats record to 2-0. Kentucky’s next game is at Kroger Field against the Florida Gators at 7 pm. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
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