LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Alvin Dupree's 6-yard interception return for a touchdown off a pass deflection with 2:29 remaining gave Kentucky a wild 45-38 comeback victory over South Carolina on Saturday night.
Trailing 38-24 with 11:45 remaining, JoJo Kemp rallied the Wildcats with touchdown runs of 1 and 5 yards before Mike Douglas' game-changing block of Dylan Thompson's pass. Dupree was right there to grab it out of the air for the easy TD that sent a black-clad crowd of 62,135 into a frenzy.
Ashely Lowery's interception with 1:31 left sealed it, sparking a huge on-field celebration as Kentucky (4-1, 2-1) won back-to-back Southeastern Conference games for the first time since 2009. The Wildcats also matched their combined win total the past two seasons and ended a three-game losing streak to the reeling Gamecocks (3-3, 2-3).
Running out of the Wildcat formation, Kemp rushed for a career-best 131 yards on 17 carries and three TDs.
Kemp also had a hand — literally — in a flea-flicker-style play that helped give Kentucky its first lead of the game as Patrick Towles hit Ryan Timmons for a 48-yard touchdown and 24-17 lead in the third quarter.
South Carolina roared back with 21 unanswered points and appeared to have Kentucky on the ropes. But the Gamecocks' league-worst defense couldn't stop Kemp before turnovers sent them to their second straight SEC loss.
South Carolina outgained Kentucky 500-447, but all the Gamecocks had to show for it was another loss that had a familiar look.
They allowed Missouri two fourth-quarter TDs last week and lost 21-20. Losing to Kentucky was even more painful for South Carolina because running back Mike Davis positioned the Gamecocks to win with a career-high 183 yards rushing and three TDs on 23 carries.
Kentucky got just its second win versus South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier in 22 tries and just their second win over the Gamecocks in 15 games.
Though South Carolina still has the bulk of its SEC schedule remaining, its chances of contending in the Eastern Division that it was favored to win took another hit.
The Gamecocks started off with a smashmouth, clock-chewing approach for a 14-0 lead that temporarily quieted some of the crowd on a cool night.
Davis carried much of the load literally, starting South Carolina's 79-yard, 19-play touchdown march with two runs for 24 yards before capping with a 1-yard run. The Gamecocks rushed 17 times for 70 yards on a possession that used 7:56, following up with a 72-yard TD drive ending with Davis scoring from 2 yards out early in the second quarter.
Elliot Fry added a 31-yard field goal for South Carolina, but by then Kentucky was responding well enough to forge a 17-all tie at halftime.
Kemp's first TD from 3 yards made it 14-7 and Braylon Heard broke away on the next possession for a 38-yard TD up the middle to bring the Wildcats within 17-14. Just like that, energy returned to Commonwealth Stadium and Austin MacGinnis added to it with a game-tying 47-yard field goal as the first half expired.
That set the stage for a high-scoring second half in which Kentucky took its only lead with the help of a targeting penalty and subsequent ejection of South Carolina's D.J. Smith and some trickery.
Kemp took the direct snap in the Wildcat formation and handed off on a left-side sweep to Javess Blue, who tossed it to Towles. All alone downfield was Timmons, whom Towles easily hit for the long TD that had Wildcats fans chanting 'Go Big Blue!"