The Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak by going back to basics in a 58-10 win over Charlotte on a frigid Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky gained 415 of its 544 yards of total offense via the ground attack, the fourth-highest total in school history, and nearly placed three backs in the 100-yard column.
Junior Jojo Kemp led the way with 165 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries. Sophomore Boom Williams followed with 140 yards and two scores, while freshman Sihiem King added 91 yards and one TD. Each player had a long, breakaway run with Kemp scoring from 47 yards out, Williams going 53 yards for a score and King taking one 62 yards to the house.
Kentucky (5-6) also got strong contributions from the other two phases of the game as defensive back Mike Edwards returned an interception 20 yards for a score off a big hit by linebacker Khalid Henderson and backup kicker Miles Butler connected on field goals from 21, 46 and 32 yards on the first three attempts of his career in relief of an injured Austin MacGinnis.
"We needed that," UK head coach Mark Stoops said. "We needed a good win, a complete win."
Charlotte (2-9) was held to 233 total yards and just 87 through the air on one of the best nights of the season for the UK defense.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some quick-hitters from UK's blowout...
WHAT WE LIKED:
Kentucky got a much-needed blowout over a struggling Charlotte squad that should put the Wildcats in the right frame of mind as they enter preparation for the Governor's Cup showdown with the Cards next week at Commonwealth Stadium. Had UK won by a less impressive margin, some doubts may have lingered into that game. The Cats also got a solid, if unspectacular performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Barker in his first collegiate start. The former Conner High School standout completed 16 of 29 passes for 129 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He showed some nice ability to improvise under pressure and extended a number of plays with his feet. With the exception of a couple of throws on a cold, windy night that wasn't exactly conducive to passing, Barker was pretty accurate, which was the lingering bugaboo for ex-starter Patrick Towles.
Kemp was the star of the game with perhaps his second-most memorable night as a Cat. (The first coming in his "WildKemp" effort to lead UK's comeback win over South Carolina in 2014.) He averaged an eye-popping 15 yards per carry against Charlotte.
BY THE NUMBERS:
0 - Interceptions for UK, only the second time this season the Cats have not been picked off.
3 - Third-down conversions for the 49ers on 17 attempts.
9.4 - Average yards per rushing attempt for UK.
10 - Tackles for loss by the Cats, including four quarterback sacks.
27 - Consecutive victories for UK when holding a lead after three quarters, including a 10-0 mark under Stoops.
48 - Point margin of victory was UK's largest since a 77-17 win over UTEP in 2002.
"It felt good to come out and prove ourselves and show people that we can put a complete game together. We definitely needed this... It's going to give us a lift going into a big week of practice and a big game here next week." -- UK center Jon Toth.
Kentucky and Louisville square off for the Governor's Cup next Saturday in a noon ET kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium with the Cats needing a win to earn bowl eligibility. The game will be broadcast by the SEC Network. The Cardinals dropped to 6-5 on the season with a 45-34 loss at Pittsburgh today.