The game started off very ugly for the new upstart offense of the Kentucky Wildcats. Just watching the game on television made you think this hurry up offense was playing a little too much hurry up, and not enough offense. After getting their very first 1st down, Smith threw his first interception of the evening right into the hands of WKU defender Brett Harrington. After picking off Smith, the WKU offense drove right down the field and knocked in a field goal to give the Hilltoppers an early 3-0 advantage. With the passing game a little shaken, the Wildcats looked to the running game for some fire. CoShik Williams looked to lead the spark early, but suffered an apparent leg injury and had to sit out most of the first half. So now what?
After Kentucky’s anemic offense left the field after 4 plays, the WKU offense looked to build on their 3-0 lead. After a couple of quick passes, QB Kawaun Jakes pass was intercepted by UK, setting up the Wildcats at the WKU 48 yard line. However, Max Smith and the Kentucky offense still could not get over their slow start. Smith threw antoher interception into the hands of Florida transfer Jonathan Dowling. The WKU offense tried to set up shop again, but the UK defense took a stand. The defense foced Western Kentucky into a 4th &1 situation and stopped running back Leon Allen from picking up the first. After this battle of who wants to give up the ball more, the first quarter ended with WKU ahead by 3. UK has gone since Nov. ’10 without scoring a touchdown in the first quarter. Yes, that’s November 2010 folks.
After stopping Western Kentucky on 4th &1, the Kentucky offense was thwarted by the Hilltopper defense on a 4th &1 of their very own. WKU took over on their own 29 yard line, and ran over the UK defense from there. With Allen and Antonio Andrews knifing threw the pourous UK run defense, Western Kentucky drove 71 yards and finished off the drive with a 1-yd. touchdown run to make the score 10-0. So at this point, we knew that we needed to respect WKU, but this was getting ridiculous. The offense came back onto the fieid for Max Smith to throw another interception to Jonathon Dowling and give the ball back to WKU. Dowling nearly took it to the house, but WKU had no problem running two plays and scoring anyway. After the extra point, WKU was cruising over UK 17-0. A little bit of shock comes over you, and you’re not sure whether to continue watching at this point. As a diehard UK fan, you stick with them through the bad with the hope still there.
At the 6:01 mark in the 1st quarter, the offense finally comes alive for UK. QB Max Smith lights up the WKU defense with some really sharp passes to four different Wildcats. The Wildcats drove all the way down to the WKU 8 yard line. Smith handed off to Jonathon George who ran it in for the touchdown. Now everything seems almost right in the world, except for the score. UK was still down 17-7, but the offense was finally showing promise. It was definitely a reason to grab a new cold beverage after your old one must have got a little warm sitting there. the defense came up big for Kentucky on the next series, stopping the WKU attack and forcing the punt. With :22 secs. left in the half, Kentucky got the ball back again. After a roughing the passer penalty on WKU, Smith demoralized the Hilltopper secondary with a 21-yard bomb to Demarco Robinson which set up a Craig McIntosh 47-yard field goal to end the half. UK still trailed, but now the momentum was building.
It’s a brand new half, it’s time to blow these guys out of the water and kick them back to their hill top in Bowling Green, right? Well, not so fast. Western Kentucky came out firing again in the 2nd half. Lead by the offensive juggernaut known as Antonio Andrews, the Hilltoppers slammed the UK defense back on their heels and ran them over to score another touchdown. Western Kentucky now lead 24-10, and now that drink is getting warm. After having the hope, the wind is slowly sinking out of the sails again. Can Kentucky fight back from this?
After Western Kentucky’s first drive took nearly 7 minutes off the clock, Kentucky’s offense took the field for the first time in the 2nd half. QB Max Smith came out firing again, hitting five different Wildcats on the drive. CoShik Williams returned but was rendered ineffective against the WKU defense. Smith drove the offense 69 yards down the field before hitting Jonathan George for a 15-yard pass that was ran in for a touchdown. It’s 24-17, and the Wildcats still have the fight. A new emerging star in Jonathan George was being born before our very eyes. La’Rod King was being a Strait-Up beast, and Smith was actually throwing to the right color jersey. Game on.
After the UK offense went 84 yards for the score, the defense once again came up huge. WKU began the drive with a 10-yard holding penalty, making it 20-yards before they could reach the 1st down marker. After a couple of incomplete passes, the UK defense was finally able to corral Antonio Andrews and forced Western Kentucky to punt. With 1:30 left in the 3rd, Max Smith threw to E.J. Fields and hit both of his tight ends to get UK in striking distance before time expired in the 3rd quarter. With the score still 24-17, the nerves were building and Kentucky had the momentum on their side. A hightened sense of enthusiasm comes over us all, and this game is still very much in doubt.
On the very first play in the 4th quarter, Max Smith threw a bullet of a pass to Johnaton Dowling. Yes, he still plays for WKU. Dowling started taking off down the field and was immediately met by suddently converted defenders. The ball was stripped out of Dowling’s hands and quickly recovered by the Wildcats. Everyone takes a collective sigh as we get back into our offensive set and Smith lines up in shotgun formation. After Jonathon George gained three yards, Smith missed on two straight passes. Kentucky lines up for a 4th down and seven yards to go. Smith drops back, surveys the field, and fires. The ball floats down the field and bounces off the ground helplessly. Turnover on downs, ball goes back to WKU. There is still a lot of time left, but the defense worries me. We have to stop Western Kentucky from scoring, we need the ball back. We are running short on timeouts, and Smith has thrown more interceptions than I can remember.
The UK defense trots back out onto the field and lines up against another red-clad team from their own state. The Hilltoppers began picking up small chunks of yardage with their run game. 2 yards here, 3 yards there. However, the little bits of yardage were not enough and the defense was able to push them back enough to force another punt. With 9:30 to go in the 4th quarter, Kentucky needed to get the ball in the endzone and turn up the heat on WKU. After two first downs, Smith missed on two consecutive passes and was sacked hard on 3rd down. WKU forces another Wildcat punt and time is running very thin. WKU takes over with a little over 5 minutes to play in the game. Western Kentucky now began to milk the clock, trying to shorten the game against the Wildcats. The time being their biggest enemy, WKU forced UK into burning their last two timeouts. WKU kept the ball on the ground and rushed for minimal yardage and the Wildcat defense once again got the high powered running game off of the field and forced the punt. Demarco Robinson fielded the punt and watched the football slip threw his fingers, bounce off of his jersey and roll foward. Frantically trying to pick up the ball and run, Robinson finally got control and was pushed out of bounds. As you’re watching the game, you are as emotionally drained and yet you are on edge with every play. After the almost tragedy with Max Smith’s 4th interception, Robinson almost coughs up a fumble on the punt return. All you can do is rub your eyes, sit back, and take a deep breath.
There is only 2:14 to go in the 4th quarter, and the Kentucky Wildcats have the ball on their own 23 yard line and they are down 7 points. We need a big play, we need a break out Randall Cobb/Stevie Johnson catch in the back of the endzone. Cobb and Johnson are playing on Sunday’s now, so who does Kentucky go to? After running for 1st down, the WKU defense forced UK into a 3rd & 10. Smith lines up in shot gun formation and heaves a miracle pass to Aaron Boyd that falls to the ground. The yellow flags begin to fly and WKU is in the wrong. Pass interference gives Kentucky 15 more yards till pay dirt. Smith tries another heave to Daryl Collins that falls short, but no flag. 3rd & 10, Smith drops back and slings a 16-yard pass to Collins and the crowd is on their feet. The cheers begin to roar, and WKU feels the pressure. A big play was coming, and the Hilltoppers couldn’t stop it. Smith flicked a 22-yard pass to a cutting Demarcus Sweat who spun off a tackle and ran it into the endzone for the touchdown! After the Craig McIntosh extra point, the score was finally tied at 24. The euphoric feeling of coming from so far behind and getting to this point is electrifying. The crowd of 50,000 is going nuts and Kentucky can still win this game.
With only :23 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Western Kentucky was perfectly content going into overtime. After two plays, we were headed into overtime in Lexington, Kentucky. With Commonwealth Stadium as loud as it had been all night, WKU won the coin toss and elected to play defense. A beaten and battered Max Smith and the UK offense headed onto the field and tried to pick apart the Hilltopper defense one more time. After his first pass fell incomplete, Smith hit La’Rod King on the sideline for 7 yards. A WKU defender smacked King while he was clearly out of bounds and cost his team a huge penalty. After being given an extra 12 yards, the UK offense was ready to throw the dagger. Smith passed off to Jonathon George who ran 11-yards for the touchdown and Kentucky had the lead! After the extra point, Kentucky was ahead 31-24 in overtime. You’re just sitting there in awe and amazement that we are ahead. Knowing that if we just stop them one more time, the game is ours. After being so down and out early on, to fight back so hard and win would be the sweetest victory.
After allowing Western Kentucky to rush a couple of times and get a first down, the UK defense managed to get WKU into a 3rd down and 7 situation. The WKU pass was complete, but UK pushed the reciever for a loss. The excitement and jubilation of forcing them into the 4th down was suddenly shattered and broken by a yellow flag thrown on the field. Kentucky was slammed in the gut with a personal fout call. WKU now had the ball, a fresh 1st down, and they were on the Wildcat 2 yard line. With the very next play, the Kentucky defense once again let WKU’s do everything guy Antonio Andrews slip through for the touchdown. 31-30, and now Western Kentucky has to decide to tie the game or go for two and win. After a methodical timeout, the WKU offensive line comes out on the field and the quarterback lines up under center. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat, just stop them one play. One big push up the middle. Just one, more. Jakes dropped back, passed off to Antonio Andrews. The reciever stayed behind the line of scrimmage as the quarterback sneaked out to the left. Andrews pulled up, floated a pass up and over the Wildcat defense and Jakes walked in for the score. Game. Over.
This was an amazing game to watch as a college football fan. To see the huge comeback, and to almost have it in the end was a gutsy effort. A lot of heart, and toughness was displayed by both unversities on that field tonight. Unfortunately for a UK fan, the game ended with the other team getting the higher score. A very sickening and demoralizing feeling comes over you after the shock of defeat. You have to tip your hats to the Western Kentucky side for a great game and an extremely gutsy call at the end to secure the win. They made the plays when we didn’t.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Writer for StraitCats.com, lifelong UK fan, college sports enthusiast. Twitter: BrianLewis_SP