BY Bill Crockett
(MANCHESTER, Ky.) — Coach Mark Stoops’ recent success notwithstanding, UK’s long-suffering fan base has witnessed this same scenario play out countless times over the years. An excruciating 42-41 loss in OT brought back a flood of painful memories for many of the Wildcat faithful at Kroger Field on Saturday. Despite rushing for a staggering 408-yards, Stoops and company blundered their way through yet another winnable game. In the end, the ‘Cats simply couldn’t overcome AJ Rose’s first quarter shenanigans and Matt Ruffolo’s missed PAT. Are you kidding me? Come on, man!
After a 22-yard Chris Rodriguez, Jr. TD run put the ‘Cats up 28-14, Rose’s caper and fumble at the goal line appeared insignificant. Not so fast! On the ensuing possession, Ole Miss QB Matt Corrall picked apart UK’s porous secondary. Corral connected on a 24-yard TD pass to WR Jonathan Mingo which trimmed the deficit to 28-21. Credit QB Terry Wilson for marching the ‘Cats back down the field. A dropped pass by freshman WR DeMarcus Harris, however, led to a doinked Ruffolo field goal off the upright.
Even though the ‘Cats continually pounded the Rebels with a punishing ground game, costly miscues, dropped passes, and penalties ultimately doomed the Wildcats’ gallant rushing effort. Chris Rodriguez, Jr. rushed for a career-high 133-yards and scored 2 TDs. AJ Rose ran for 117-yards, but received a ton of criticism afterward because of his premature celebration at the end of a spectacular 72-yard run—celebrate after the score, kids. QB Terry Wilson completed 14 of 18 passing attempts for 151 yards, rushed for 129-yards, and scored 3 TDs.
Make no mistake about it, this loss hurts. So much so that an enraged Mark Stoops chased down the referees after the game ended—pass interference call anyone? Yes, the interference call appeared questionable at best, but that’s not what cost the ‘Cats the game. It’s painfully evident that a ton of inexcusable mistakes haven’t been corrected by the coaching staff—and the secondary still looks HORRIBLE. Kentucky’s offense put more than enough points on the board for a victory, but you have to play defense to win in the SEC.