Big-play Cats pull away from Kent State

Maxwell Smith passed for 354 yards and four touchdowns, including the first career touchdown reception for senior wide receiver Aaron Boyd as Kentucky rolled to a 47-14 win over Kent State on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Maxwell Smith passed for 354 yards and four touchdowns, including the first career touchdown reception for senior wide receiver Aaron Boyd, as Kentucky rolled to a 47-14 win over Kent State on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Wildcats (1-1) bounced back from their disappointing performance last week in the season opener against Louisville by relying on a big-play offense and a bend-but-don't-break defense.

"We made some improvements," UK head coach Joker Phillips said. "We've still got a lot of things that we need to work on... but, again, we took care of the ball offensively, and we got ourselves off the field defensively when we needed to. We gave up a couple of big plays on defense. We've got to make them to continue to snap the football and not give up big plays.

"A lot of improvement, but there needs to be more next week (against Western Kentucky)."

Offensively, UK got a career-high 11 catches for 100 yards and a 14-yard touchdown reception from Boyd, a former Lexington Henry Clay standout who entered his senior season with only six career catches for 51 yards.

"It's a dream come true, really," Boyd said. "I'm really grateful for this opportunity that I've gotten. I just really hope to keep on making the best out of it."

The Cats also had a career-high rushing effort from junior tailback Raymond Sanders, who carried the ball 13 times for 115 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown run that was one of many big plays on the night for the winners. Jonathan George added a 38-yard scoring run, while Smith connected with DeMarcus Sweat on a 56-yard TD pass.

Kentucky finished with 539 yards of total offense, its best output since recording 580 yards in a 2010 matchup with Vanderbilt.

The UK defense surrendered more than 400 yards for the second straight week, but stiffened the further Kent State drove most of the night. The Golden Flashes (1-1) were 0-for-3 in the red zone on the night, including a pair of missed field goals.

NOTES:

* Kentucky has a 93-23-6 all-time record in home openers. The Cats have won seven consecutive home openers.

* UK has a 27-7-1 all-time record against teams from the Mid-American Conference, including a 7-0 mark against Kent State.

* The Cats' 354 yards passing were their most since a 430-yard output versus Tennessee in 2007.

* After 11 different UK players caught passes in the season opener against Louisville, 10 hauled in passes in Game 2. * Kentucky is now 9-1 under Joker Phillips in games when the Wildcats win the turnover margin.

* The Cats recorded their first safety since Oct. 24, 2009, against Louisiana-Monroe when Kent State's Dri Archer slipped in his own end zone with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter.


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