Five Plays Which Shaped Kentucky’s 2017 Season
For a second straight year the Kentucky Wildcats are 7-5 and going bowling. They will face the Wildcats from Northwestern in the Music City Bowl on December 29th. In a 12 game regular season it is difficult to choose the five most important plays, however that is what we are going to do. While any list is subjective here now are Five Plays Which Shaped Kentucky’s 2017 Season.
A Big Stop On Defense
Number Five- Mike Edwards’ Interception Against Eastern Michigan. One week after letting one slip away against Florida (more on that later) the Cats led the Broncos late in the fourth quarter. A Benjamin Snell Jr. touchdown run put Kentucky up 24-14 with twelve minutes to go. However EMU cut the lead to four on an Ian Eriksen touchdown run with under three minutes to play.
On their ensuing possession the Cats went three and out giving the ball right back to the Broncos. The game’s final play saw Brogan Roback launch a hail mary towards the end zone. Edwards picked off the pass in the end zone to save the Cats from what would have been a horrible loss.
Johnson To The Rescue
Number Four- Stephen Johnson‘s Run Against South Carolina. Playing in an always rowdy Columbia the Wildcats led the Gamecocks 20-13 with six minutes remaining. Facing a third and eight the quarterback scrambled 54 yards to the South Carolina 10. Following Johnson’s big play Austin Macginnis kicked his third field goal of the game to gave Kentucky a 23-13 victory.
In addition to giving the Cats pick up their fourth straight win over the Gamecocks it gave the Big Blue Nation of its best images of the season. Furthermore it is a reminder to True Blue Fans how much they will miss Johnson in 2018.
A Heartbreaking Loss
Number Three: Ole Miss’s Converts In The Closing Seconds
Coming into this game the Rebels had nothing to play for. Not only were they on probation for 2017 but lost quarterback Shea Patterson to a knee injury. Enter Jordan Ta’amu who torched the Kentucky defense for 382 yards and four touchdowns.
Following a touchdown run by Snell which put the Cats up 37-34 with two minutes left. Many in the crowd of almost 56,000 at Kroger Field all the same thing, “Kentucky left too much time on the clock.” Those words proved to be prophetic as Ta’amu calmly led the Rebels down the field. An overturned fumble call gave the ball back to Ole Miss at the seven yard line.
From there Ta’amu hit D.K. Metcalf in the back of the end zone to win the game. While Lonnie Johnson was right there in coverage the ball was thrown perfectly and the catch was even better.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 4, 2017
A Rare Win Over An SEC Rival
As most Kentucky fans are well aware the Cats have only defeated the Volunteers twice since 1984. Even with Tennessee’s worst team in years Kentucky still almost didn’t pull this one out. Trailing 26-21 late in the fourth quarter and with a bad shoulder Johnson ran 11 yards and dove for the end zone to give the Cats the lead. On the following play he hit Snell for a two point conversion and a three point lead.
However as any long suffering Kentucky fan knows no lead is safe and that was the case here. On a fourth and 19 the defense let Jarrett Guarantano complete a 25 yard pass to Brandon Johnson. In what happened quite a bit in 2017 the game came down to the last play. Guarantano completed a hail mary to Jeff George for 48 yards. Thankfully for Kentucky Baity recovered quickly and stopped George at the three. Cat fans can relive the action right here.
Heartbreak Once Again To The Gators
Number One: Del Rio To Swain In The Final Minutes
The last time Kentucky defeated Florida in football Crocodile Dundee was the number one movie in America. Over the 31 year losing streak the Cats have had their chances but none more so that this season. Much like Tennessee the 2017 Gators were one of the worst teams in school history. However the Cats were unable to finish the deal due to some costly errors.
The Wildcats led 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter and it looked like this was finally the year. But it was not to be as Luke Del Rio hit an uncovered Freddie Swain with a six yard touchdown to put the Gators up 28-27. To make matters worse this was the second time Kentucky left a receiver uncovered both leading to touchdowns.
— Will Mitchell (@wmitch) September 24, 2017
Even after that play Kentucky still had a chance to win. However a ridiculous holding penalty on Nick Haynes forced Austin Macginnis to try a 57 yard field goal which fell just short. As it turned out the losses to Florida and Ole Miss prevented the Cats from making the Outback Bowl.
Thanks for checking out Five Plays Which Shaped Kentucky’s 2017 Season here at Last Word On College Football. What played did we miss and what would be your plays? Post them in the comment section or tweet me @kevinmcguffey.