Nov 14, 2020; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Tyrell Ajian (23) scores a touchdown against Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Cam Johnson (7) at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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Kentucky secures narrow win over Vanderbilt

Kentucky ran for 308 yards as the Wildcats beat Vanderbilt, 38-35, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday afternoon.

The ‘Cats, who struggled to a 14-3 loss to Georgia without quarterback Terry Wilson last week, had an offensive transformation thanks to their senior, who was 13 of 15 passing for 110 yards and ran seven times for 83 more.

The Wildcats ripped off 277 yards and 8.9 yards per play in the first half thanks to Wilson, who accounted for three touchdowns and 171 yards of total offense before the break in giving UK a 24-14 lead.

Running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. added 13 carries for 149 yards and two scores for the Wildcats (3-4).

Vanderbilt running back Keyon Henry-Brooks, the team’s leading rusher, carried 29 times for 121 yards before leaving the game with an injury with about 10 minutes to play. The ‘Dores posted a season high in points.

After Vandy (0-6) went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, punter Harrison Smith hit a low, 34-yard punt that wide receiver Josh Ali returned 39 yards to the Vandy 26. Rodriguez Jr. ran for a 3-yard score on a first-and-goal play, putting the Wildcats up, 31-14.

The Commodores answered when backup quarterback Mike Wright raced in for a 2-yard touchdown run.

But Kentucky put the game away when Rodriguez raced virtually untouched for a 74-yard touchdown through a hole created by right guard Austin Dotson.

In the first half, Wilson sucked the Commodores in with play-action fakes before throwing a pair of touchdowns, the first for 15 yards to tight end Justin Rigg and the other to tight end Keaton Upshaw for 21 yards with 10:28 left in the second quarter.

In between, Wilson took a quarterback keeper and sprinted untouched down the right sideline for a 32-yard touchdown with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

Vandy quarterback Ken Seals hit a wide-open Chris Pierce with a 34-yard touchdown toss 30 seconds into the second quarter. Wright hit tight end Ben Bresnahan with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 3:40 in the second quarter to help pull VU within 21-14.

But Wilson escaped pressure and scrambled for 27 on third-and-26, keeping alive a drive that ended in Chance Poore’s 28-yard field goal on the half’s last play.

Vandy never led but pulled closer at the end on a 2-yard touchdown run from walk-on running back Mitchell Pryor and a Seals 7-yard TD throw to wide receiver Cam Johnson with 30 seconds left.

The Wildcats played with heavy hearts after offensive line coach John Schlarman died of cancer on Thursday. Schlarman coached at Kentucky from 2013-20.

Kentucky took the field without a left guard in honor of Schlarman, who played that position at UK. The Wildcats took a delay of game in his honor, which the Commodores declined.

Left tackle Landon Young, who normally wears No. 67, wore No. 65 in honor of Schlarman, who wore that number during his Wildcat career.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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