Leaning heavily on a ‘Wildcat’ formation that saw sophomore running back JoJo Kemp rush for 131 yards and three touchdowns, Kentucky scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter Saturday to stun South Carolina 45-38 at a raucous Commonwealth Stadium.
Kentucky (4-1 2-1 SEC) trailed 38-24 with just over eight minutes remaining in the game before Kemp almost single-handedly marched the Cats down the field on the tying drives by taking the direct snap from center and weaving his way through a perplexed Gamecock defense.
The Wildcats then turned to defense for the game-winner, intercepting South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson on a tipped ball by UK defensive tackle Mike Douglas at the line of scrimmage that defensive end Alvin “Bud” Dupree picked out of the air and ran 6 yards into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 2:29 remaining.
Kentucky safety Ashely Lowery sealed the win for the Cats with an interception of Thompson on the Gamecocks’ final possession.
South Carolina (3-3, 2-3 SEC) lost despite outgaining the Cats 500-447 in total offense, but UK had a 3-1 advantage in turnover margin. Gamecock running back Mike Davis led his team with 183 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highlights:
WHAT WE LIKED:
Kentucky found a way to win a game it would have likely never won in the past. The Cats fell behind 14-0 after South Carolina’s first two drives and had just about everything go against them with some controversial calls. They trailed 14-0, 17-7 and 38-24, but refused to fold, hanging in there long enough to take advantage of some Gamecock mistakes and steal the win. That’s a sign of a mentally-tough football team. Coupled with their performance at Florida, the Cats have proven to be 60-minute (or more) men.
Sophomore running back Jojo Kemp changed the game with his expert execution in the ‘Wildcat’ formation. It may just be called the ‘WildKemp’ from this point on across Big Blue Nation. Kemp finished with a career-high 131 yards and three touchdowns, putting the team on his back in the fourth quarter.
STAT OF THE DAY:
The game featured bizarre runs by both teams. South Carolina opened the game with a 14-0 spurt. Kentucky had a 10-0 run to take the lead early in the third quarter. The Gamecocks responded with 21 unanswered, followed by 21 unanswered by the Cats to close the game.
“JoJo, so proud of JoJo. I think that was, other than some special guests we have sometimes when we honor somebody, that was the first game ball I gave out tonight. Called JoJo up and gave him a game ball. Because just sheer determination that he had. He put the team on his back. He was trying to come out of the game once. I said: ‘That's it; no more. You stay in there, grind it out.’ And he did. And he really dug deep. And our offensive line did a great job. Neil (Brown) did a great job keeping them off balance. And it was just special to see him grind it out like that and make those big plays.” – UK head coach Mark Stoops
The Cats step outside of conference play when they play host to UL-Monroe next weekend at Commonwealth Stadium. The Warhawks (3-2) are coming off a 28-14 loss to Arkansas State.