On Sat. Sep. 14 the Wildcats experienced their first loss of the 2019-20 season. Entering the fourth quarter down 21-10, Florida stormed back against the Cats’ to clinch a 21-29 win.
“It’s going to hurt,” head coach Mark Stoops said of the loss, “when you invest in what we invest, it should hurt and it’s going to hurt.”
While allowing 19 fourth quarter points made for a crushing outcome for Kentucky fans, there is a lot of hope that can be found in this loss. In the face of this loss, fans can hold tight to the early success of the team in earning a 21-10 lead.
“That’s the ninth-ranked team in the country and our team played — did some very good things, with a backup quarterback that did a lot of good things. I’m proud of our team,” said Stoops.
Kentucky started the game strong on both ends of the field. The Wildcats began on defense, where they intercepted the ball on Florida’s first possession. The Gators were able to force a fumble for a touchdown, but the Kentucky offense responded with back-to-back touchdowns behind new starting QB Sawyer Smith.
Smith threw for 267 yards in his first game as a Wildcat, earning him high praise from his team.
“I think he (Smith) played well and played aggressive,” said WR Ahmad Wagner, “Obviously, it was his first start for us so probably some jitters or something, but I think he played well. I stand behind how he played and that’s our QB.”
Wagner was another Wildcat to star against the Gators. He was recorded receiving 70 yards in just three plays. Wagner caught all three balls intended for him with his most memorable play coming in the second quarter when he caught a 26-yard lob for a touchdown.
The offensive line also made an impact. Smith appreciated their effort, saying, “That team came in here with 15 sacks, and I think they got to me one time. Everyone around me played really well tonight.”
The Cats will be on the road next week against Mississippi State. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. with the game set to be broadcast by the SEC Network.