Err Raid: Miscues doom Cats at Vandy

Kentucky had its best opportunity to end a nearly two-year Southeastern Conference losing skid on Saturday at Vanderbilt, but the Wildcats could not solve one major problem: getting out of their own way.

Kentucky had its best opportunity to end a nearly two-year Southeastern Conference losing skid on Saturday at Vanderbilt, but the Wildcats could not solve one major problem: getting out of their own way.

Mark Stoops' team entered the game with the second-fewest turnovers (7) in the NCAA, but threw four interceptions. UK was also one of the least-penalized teams in the nation, but was flagged 10 times for 85 yards.

Toss in a blocked extra point that led to a 2-point conversion for the Commodores, an illegal grounding on a option pass by a receiver, a 13-yard punt, a delay of game on the first play of the third quarter, and a fake field goal that went awry, and it added up to Vanderbilt 22, Kentucky 6.

The Wildcats (2-8, 0-6 SEC) fell to the Commodores for the third consecutive season and saw their losing streak reach 14 in league play.

"It's very difficult and very frustrating," Stoops said. "Just look at the first half – I felt like we were doing a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. We controlled it offensively, and the defense was playing outstanding, and we go in down (9-6 at halftime). It's just frustrating. We've just got to make some plays."

After driving 75 yards on 12 plays to score a touchdown on its opening possession, Kentucky got next to nothing from its offense. The Wildcats failed to reach the Vanderbilt red zone the rest of the afternoon.

"Everybody's going to point to the quarterback play and all that," Stoops said, "but he does some good things. It's guys around him, too. We've got to have some people make plays for him. We're not doing that. It's not all on Jalen."

Whitlow led the team with 69 yards rushing, but finished 14 of 28 through the air for 120 yards and four interceptions. He had been picked off only once this season prior to Saturday's game.

Vanderbilt wasn't much better on that side of the ball, missing one field goal and settling for two others before tacking on a touchdown to seal the win with 47 seconds remaining in the game, but it was enough to improve to 6-4 on the season and clinch bowl eligibility for the third consecutive year under coach James Franklin.

Kentucky played one of its better overall defensive games of the season, but had no answers for Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who caught 12 passes for 141 yards and inched closer to becomign the SEC's all-time leader in receptions. Matthews also had 31 yards rushing for the Commodores.

"It comes down to some matchups," Stoops said. "We're out-numbering them in the run game, and we stopped them just about all day, did that well, but they've got one guy that they could throw it over our head, over the top.

"Matthews is a great player and tough matchup for us. Sometimes it comes down to one of those. Give him credit. He went up and made plays. That's what we need someone to do."

JoJo Kemp staked UK to a 6-0 lead on the opening drive, scoring from 2 yards out, but Joe Mansour's extra point was blocked by Adam Butler and scooped up by Steven Clarke for a 98-yard return for two points on the Vanderbilt side of the scoreboard.

The Commodores' Andre Hal intercepted a UK pass that deflected off Demarco Robinson's hands to set up Vandy's next score, a 21-yard touchdown run by Brian Kimbrow to make it 9-6 with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.

That score held up until the fourth quarter when Vandy got field goals of 26 and 38 yards by Carey Spear to push its lead to 15-6.

The Commodores sealed the win with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Patton Robinette to Kris Kentera with 47 seconds remaining in the game. The play, coming on fourth down with UK out of timeouts, appeared to rankle Stoops and lead to some discussion with Franklin during the postgame handshake.

Stoops declined to comment on the situation. "That's between him and me."

NOTES:

• The all-time series between Kentucky and Vanderbilt is now split down the middle at 41-41-4.

• UK's Raymond Sanders rushed for 60 yards to push his career total to 1,542 and move past Mike Fanuzzi (1,482) and Al Baker (1,534) for 16th place on the UK career rushing list.

• The Wildcats' Eric Dixon was ejected from the game in the second half for a "targeting" personal foul penalty against Vandy's Matthews. According to rules, the UK safety will have to miss the first half of next week's game against Georgia.

• Defensive tackle Donte Rumph had a career-high 10 tackles and added a tackle for loss. His previous best was seven stops earlier this season at Mississippi State.

• UK's Glenn Faulkner made his first collegiate start at safety.

Jeff Drummond has covered University of Kentucky sports for newspapers, magazines and online publications since 1988 and for FOX Sports since 2012. A Richmond, Ky., native, he currently resides in Lexington.

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