9:47:40 UKvsFloridaFB

Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. (1) walks off the field after the UK vs Florida football game on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Florida won 29-21. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

The Kentucky football team hadn’t lost a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks since 2013—until Saturday night. UK sought its sixth straight win against them and its first SEC win of the season, but instead the Gamecocks secured the victory 24-7. 

The very first drive of the game led to a South Carolina touchdown, taking 11 plays and 75 yards to do so. With an already thin defense, especially the secondary, the Cats had to go without senior defensive back Jordan Griffin, who was battling an injury. The possession to follow, which was UK’s first possession of the game, starting quarterback Sawyer Smith threw an interception, his fifth of the season. With that, Smith had turned the ball over on the first drive of each of his three Kentucky starts. 

A multitude of problems led to the Cats’ loss, one of those being the inability to create hardly any offense. In the first half UK only produced 78 yards offensively, compared to South Carolina’s 225, and went 0-for-8 on third downs. Of UK’s 78 first-half yards, 53 of those were on the ground. 

After spotting a 10-0 lead at halftime, the Gamecocks would only keep running down the Cats, especially the offense. They gained 134 more yards of offense in the second half, and after Smith suffered his fourth sack of the game, Kentucky explored other quarterback options. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden had taken a few snaps throughout the game in the Wildcat formation, but after Smith was taken out for good, Bowden led the Cats to their first score of the night. A five-play, 85-yard drive toward the end of the fourth quarter led to a Chris Rodriguez 2-yard rush into the endzone, avoiding the first shutout of the Stoops era. 

Defensively, safety Yusuf Corker led Kentucky with nine tackles on the game. Three sacks, two from Jamar Watson and one from Calvin Taylor, gave them some momentum defensively, but not enough. 

The Cats will head into a much-needed bye week, their first of two of the season. Next up will be Arkansas on October 12 in Lexington.