USA Today/Jim Brown

Recap: Mistake-plagued Kentucky Wildcats drop fifth straight, 21-17 at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt took advantage of one Kentucky mistake after another Saturday en route to a 21-17 win that may wind up sinking the Wildcats' bowl chances.

Kentucky (4-6, 2-6 SEC) lost its fifth consecutive game after a once promising start to the season, and it may have been its worst overall performance against the weakest opponent during that stretch. 

The Cats simply could not get out of their own way on a disastrous afternoon in Nashville that included:

  • Dropping two potential touchdown passes on their opening drive;
  • Turning the ball over on downs after earning 1st-and-goal at Vanderbilt's 1-yard line;
  • Fumbling at their own 4-yard line to set up the Commodores' first score of the game;
  • Throwing an interception into the end zone after taking over 1st-and-goal at Vandy's 3-yard line;
  • Giving up a pick-6 to the Dores' Oren Burks;
  • Failing on 4th-and-1 near midfield with 1:15 left in the half, setting up Vandy's final score and what would ultimately be the game-winning score;
  • Getting a punt blocked;
  • Missing a 37-yard field goal

It all added up to a devastating loss for a Kentucky team seeking its first bowl appearance in five years. The Cats must now win both of their final two games against Charlotte and rival Louisville to reach the six-win plateau necessary to receive a bowl invitation.

"It was a very difficult loss, heartbreaking for our team," UK head coach Mark Stoops said. "We thought our team played with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a lot of heart. The game comes down to a lot of critical plays, a few decisions with myself that could sometimes turn the outcome one way or the other."

The Cats wasted a 115-yard rushing effort by sophomore running back Stanley "Boom" Williams on a day when the UK passing attack was once again lackluster despite using both Patrick Towles and Drew Barker under center. The two combined to complete only 15 of 34 attempts for 127 yards, tossed two interceptions and were sacked twice.

Vanderbilt (4-6, 2-4 SEC) got 166 yards passing and two touchdowns from freshman quarterback Kyle Shurmur as well as 113 yards rushing from Ralph Webb.

In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the quick-hitters from UK's loss...


Kentucky had a chance to go up 10-0 in the first quarter and really put some pressure on a struggling Vanderbilt offense when the Commodores responded with the first of their two goal-line stands. Boom Williams got the Cats down to the 1-yard line on a long run, but that was followed by a no-gain run, an incomplete pass, and two more runs for no gain. The sequence appeared to take the air out of UK's sails after a decent start to the game on the offensive side of the ball. The Cats' next three possessions featured a fumble, a 3-and-out and an interception.


1st - TD pass of Drew Barker's career. The UK redshirt freshman connected with Ryan Timmons on a 7-yard scoring strike in the second quarter.

2nd - Time UK has topped the 200-yard rushing mark this season, gaining 225 against the Commodores.

6th - 100-yard rushing game of Boom Williams' career.

42-42-4 - The all-time series record between UK and Vandy after Saturday's game.


Kentucky returns home to face Charlotte (2-8) on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. The 49ers are riding an eight-game losing streak after Saturday's 30-27 loss to UT San Antonio. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

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