Florida vs. Kentucky score, takeways: No. 20 Wildcats dominate second half to swamp No. 12 Gators – CBS Sports

  • September 11, 2022

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Nearly a touchdown underdog entering The Swamp on Saturday night, No. 20 Kentucky shut out No. 12 Florida in the second half to pull off a 26-16 win and continue a wild day of upsets across college football. While neither of the game’s star quarterbacks were notably efficient, Gators phenom Anthony Richardson was notably poor as the Wildcats defense rattled him all night to win consecutive games over their SEC East rivals for the first time since 1976-77.
The win over Florida also makes Mark Stoops the winningest coach in Kentucky history with 61 victories, one more than the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. The ‘Cats have now won three of their last five meetings against the Gators after losing the prior 31 games in the rivalry. 
Kentucky trailed 16-7 after recording a safety by botching a snap on a punt late in the second quarter, but the visitors were able to rattle off the final 19 points of the game, including a 65-yard pick six by Keidron Smith with 3:25 left in the third quarter and 26-yard field goal from Matt Ruffolo with 1:24 remaining. 
The UK defense gave up just 91 yards to the UF in the second half, much of which came in garbage time in the final possession of the game, in one of the most impressive such performances during the Stoops era.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis hooked up with Dane Key for a 55-yard touchdown to take a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, but Florida scored the next 13 points including an 11-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion reception by Trevor Etienne.
The ‘Cats rushing attack, which was largely stagnant in the first half, cranked things up in the latter period behind Kavosiey Smoke and La’Vell Wright, wearing down a Florida defense that struggled with the physicality of its offensive line. It was the first time the Gators was shut out in the second half of the game since 2017 against Michigan.
Richardson entered the game with Heisman Trophy and NFL hype after engineering a thrilling victory over then-No. 7 Utah last week, but he struggled mightily Saturday. Richardson finished 14 of 35 for 143 yards with two interceptions and only 4 rushing yards. He has yet to throw a touchdown in either game this season.
What are the biggest takeaways from Saturday night’s SEC East battle in Gainesville? Let’s break them down. 
Stoops didn’t become the winningest coach in program history by accident. He did it by establishing the identity of Kentucky football in his own image — a smashmouth, old-school team that pounds opponents at the line of scrimmage and capitalizes in the second half. This game was a perfect encapsulation of that identity. 
Florida had just 13 rushing yards in the second half, converted just two of its eight chances on third down, one of three on fourth down and had just 2.9 yards per play. What’s more, Kentucky held Florida without a chunk play — passes of 15 or more yards and rushes of 10 or more yards — in the fourth quarter. That’s the calling card of a well-coached, fundamentally sound defense. 
We don’t know what Kentucky’s offense is capable of. Levis didn’t have a great day through the air and struggled to consistently move things on the ground. That makes its ceiling a mystery. What we do know is that its floor is incredibly high because of a mentality that is established from the moment Stoops welcomes players on campus. 
Richardson’s week-long hype was due in large part to his 106 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on the ground. However, he had a relatively average day through the air with 168 yards and an average of 7.0 yards per attempt. He wasn’t at full strength on Saturday, which played into his lack of production on the ground, but Kentucky made him one-dimensional and he couldn’t come through.
Simply put, the hype was too much, too soon for the redshirt sophomore from Gainesville, Florida. That’s not to say that he can’t fix the glitch. But he was used primarily as a changeup on the ground last year behind Emory Jones, and that inexperience showed against Kentucky.
Kentucky has Youngstown State and Northern Illinois up on the schedule before a showdown with Ole Miss in Oxford. That is looking like it’ll be a matchup between top-15 teams in a game that can not only vault the winner into “contender” status within the division but also as a legit threat to the national title. 
Kentucky has two games to work on its offense and, perhaps more importantly, get Chris Rodriguez Jr. back to lead Smoke and the rest of the running back corps. If they can consistently establish the run — something that didn’t happen until the second half on Saturday — Levis’ job will be much easier and transform the Wildcats into a complete football team.
SIXTY-ONE!! pic.twitter.com/NrKfGPoVFU
2022 Gators Football Press Conference with current players. #GoGators https://t.co/RX08n8rWp8
Cats win! Cats win!!! 😼 https://t.co/BttJKhe3pc
🐐 @UKCoachStoops now has the most football wins in @universityofky history. 💙 pic.twitter.com/dr9PuYcFLY
“I thought it was a thing of beauty.” @UKCoachStoops pic.twitter.com/mDQ27hTsWr
Final from The Swamp. #GoGators | @WellsFargo pic.twitter.com/EXn9Bpd37H
Don’t back down. pic.twitter.com/1y9yNLm5HV
26-yard FG by @RuffoloMatthew is good 🙌.

Kentucky 26, Florida 16 (1:24, 4Q). pic.twitter.com/MpEj7pEnhV
FIRST DOWN, @_KS20_ 💨❄️

First and goal. pic.twitter.com/oo6Rxe2Qkq
@deonewalker0 the true freshman from Detroit said NOT ON MY WATCH” 🗣@JoeTessESPN

📺 – @ESPN 📲 – https://t.co/G4ZTknMNuv pic.twitter.com/dc8XASKFjU
FOURTH DOWN STOP! @run_carri7 on the PBU!

We take over at the UF 40-yard line! UK 23, UF 16 (11:05, 4Q).
Florida, down seven on fourth-and-3 with 8:41 to play, coach Bill Napier decided to go for it. Carrington Valentine broke up Anthony Richardson’s pass on a slant to turn the ball over. Kentucky took over and Kavosiey Smoke promptly ripped off an 18-yard run to get the Wildcats into field goal range. Napier will look back on that one on Sunday and wonder what he was thinking.
One more quarter to go! #GoGators | #jOURney pic.twitter.com/WpmWz4kGVA
Together, #BBN. pic.twitter.com/FnE4R6MznC
The tables have turned in a hurry in Gainesville. Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson telegraphed a pass to the outside, Keidron Smith jumped the route and took it 65 yards the other way to give the Wildcats a one-score lead late in the third. Richardson has been brutal through the air today, going 8 of 21 for 103 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He received a ton of hype for his success against Utah last week, but that was mostly because of his work on the ground. Through the air, however, he has been below average through seven quarters this year. 
PICK SIX @KeidronS!

📺 – @ESPN 📲 – https://t.co/G4ZTknMNuv pic.twitter.com/EFPdp7GkVO
@DaneKey6 is special
PICK SIX @KeidronS!

📺 – @ESPN 📲 – https://t.co/G4ZTknMNuv pic.twitter.com/EFPdp7GkVO
Jalen Geiger has a leg injury. He will not return tonight.
Matt Ruffalo hit a 24-yard field goal after Kentucky’s 11-play drive stalled. The big news in the third quarter has been the arrival of the Kentucky running game, which has featured a good mix of Kavosiey Smoke and La’Vell Wright. Smoke now has nine carries for 39 yards, and is providing enough balance to keep Florida’s defense honest. 
24-yard FG by @RuffoloMatthew is good to tie the game at 16-16 (6:35, 3Q)

11-play, 69-yard drive over 5:43. #ForTheTeam 😼🏈 pic.twitter.com/8GlbXUdcVp
QB1 @will_levis ➡️ @D_harris2121 ➡️ @illest_magg. 25-yard gain.

📺 – @ESPN 📲 – https://t.co/G4ZTknMNuv pic.twitter.com/tuXu4iVeE6
QB1’s first half: 10/15 for 155 yards + 1TD and a rushing TD.@will_levis #ForTheTeam 😼🏈 pic.twitter.com/eQgRh81JMg
📸 First half flicks pic.twitter.com/hOZ6u95gJg
Up at the half! #GoGators | #jOURney pic.twitter.com/892bi24i1B
We will receive the kickoff to start the second half.#ForTheTeam @fayetteheating pic.twitter.com/Wksc1pEifS
Touchdown, @will_levis on the QB sneak. Extra point try is no good.

Florida 16, Kentucky 13 (1:25, 2Q) pic.twitter.com/uIrZXGcOtJ
The Wildcats were seemingly spiraling out of control, but quarterback Will Levis plunged in from one yard out got them within three. Another special teams blunder cost them on the point after, when a bad snap forced Chance Poor to roll out and heave up a prayer that fell incomplete. It gave Kentucky much-needed momentum going into the locker room, but special teams need to be cleaned up.
One-handed INT at point-blank range 😱 @JayyDubb15!

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Our ball on the Florida 6. pic.twitter.com/BULajDfN92

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