South Carolina Beats Kentucky 24-14

Cats Struggle Without Levis

Heading into Saturday night’s game under the lights at Kroger Field one question dominated the headlines. Would starting quarterback Will Levis play for Kentucky? Due to a foot injury, the answer was “no” with Kaiya Sheron getting the start. The Wildcats struggled not only on offense but had issues in all facets of the game leading to a bad loss. It’s not pretty but let’s break it down as South Carolina beats Kentucky 24-14.

Another Bad Start

We’ve said this a lot this year but Kentucky has started nearly every game poorly. With a backup quarterback word on the street was Mark Stoops would try some different things. In the first play, UK tried a reverse that went nowhere except backward. Chris Rodriguez attempted to pitch it to Barion Brown but the ball ended up on the ground. Tonka Hemingway ran it back to the Wildcat two-yard line. On the next play, Marshawn Lloyd took it in and just like that South Carolina had the lead.

Following an exchange of punts, Kentucky finally got some momentum when Tyrell Ajian sacked Spencer Rattler deep in Wildcat territory forcing a fumble. J.J. Weaver recovered and the Cats dodged a bullet. Behind a healthy dose of Rodriguez, the Cats moved it down to the South Carolina 27 before the drive stalled. Unfortunately for the Big Blue Nation, the kicking woes from Ole Miss continued. A bad snap led to a missed 45-yard field goal by Matt Ruffolo and UK came away with nothing.

After turning Carolina on downs Sheron ran a very impressive drive culminating with a 16-yard touchdown to Jordan Dingle and we went in tied at the half.

Dominating Second Half

After the break, Shane Beamer’s club came out strong as they held the ball for nearly 2/3 of the third period. A 42-yard pass from Rattler to Antwane Wells Jr. gave USC a 14-7 lead and they would never trail again. Following a Kentucky punt Carolina held the ball for seven minutes and went up by 10 on a 32-yard field goal by Mitch Jeter.

Halfway through the fourth quarter, a 24-yard Jalen Brooks run gave Carolina a 24-7 lead. Kentucky finally got on the scoreboard going 75 yards in four minutes. Sheron hit Juthan McClain on a 10-yard score cutting it to 10. USC recovered the onside kick and was able to run out the clock and South Carolina beats Kentucky 24-14.

Looking Ahead

With the loss, Kentucky drops to 4-2 on the season and 1-2 in SEC play. UK had won seven of the last eight against the Gamecocks. Their bowl destination will take a hit from the ReliaQuest Bowl when our new projections come out.

Next week they’ll host Will Rogers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. MSU easily handled Arkansas 40-17 behind 395 yards and three touchdowns from their star quarterback.

As for the Gamecocks, they improve to 4-2 on the year and 1-2 in the conference. In the process, Beamer gets his first win over a Top 25-ranked club. They have their bye week next week before hosting Texas A&M on October 22nd.

Final Thoughts

If you read our game preview, we said Kentucky couldn’t get off to a slow start and they had to protect the quarterback. Neither happened as Carolina got the early momentum off the botched reverse. In addition, they sacked Sheron six times. Coming into Saturday USC only had four sacks the entire season.

We heard all week they were going to open up the playbook. Maybe after the opening play, Stoops and Rich Scangarello went conservative. Honestly, Sheron didn’t play that badly throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns. However, as the UK headman said after the game they didn’t do a great job helping him to be successful. Another puzzling thing was Rodriguez. He ran for almost 100 yards in the first half but finished with only 126.

Again South Carolina beat Kentucky 24-14 as the Cats dropped their second straight. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football.