A week after the best victory in the Mark Stoops era, Kentucky nearly followed it up with its worst loss.
Eastern Kentucky, an FCS team from the Ohio Valley Conference, led the Wildcats by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter before Kentucky prevailed 34-27 in overtime. Kentucky moved to 4-1 with the victory. The Colonels, who defeated an FBS opponent in 2014, Miami (Ohio), are now 2-2 this season with a 35-0 loss to N.C. State in their other game against an FBS team.
Eastern Kentucky took the lead on Kentucky in the fourth quarter, 20-13. Dy’Shawn Mobley scored a 6-yard run.
This is the fourth time Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky have played, and it is the first time the Colonels have held a lead. Eastern Kentucky extended its lead to 27-13 with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Bennie Coney to Devin Borders.
Kentucky responded with a touchdown on a 7-yard run by Kemp to pull within 27-20 with 4:59 left. The Wildcats were able to tie the game at 27 with 52 seconds left on a touchdown pass from Patrick Towles to Dorian Baker.
Towles threw another touchdown pass to Baker to start the overtime session, and then the Kentucky defense made a stand to claim the victory.
The Wildcats defeated then-No. 25 Missouri last Saturday, but struggled in this letdown game. Here are three reasons the Colonels nearly pulled off the upset:
1. Rushing woes
Stanley “Boom” Williams is not dressed because of a reported coach’s decision. He had lost his starting job to Jojo Kemp, but the Wildcats could probably use him. Kentucky finished with 36 carries for 55 yards. Eastern Kentucky also enjoyed plenty of success on the ground. The Colonels had 180 rushing yards.
A week after Towles had an excellent game against Missouri, he was intercepted twice by Eastern Kentucky. Toss in a fumble, and three turnovers are too many against anyone, let alone an FCS squad.
3. Special teams
The game went to overtime in part because of a missed extra point for the Wildcats on their second touchdown. Granted, the Colonels also missed one, but that’s a problem in a tight game.