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The No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 49-21 on Senior Day at Kroger Field. QB Jalen Milroe was the star of the game for the Crimson Tide, as he accumulated 6 total TDs in the game (3 passing, 3 rushing). The Tide got out to an early 21-0 lead, with the help of short fields and a key early turnover by Kentucky. The closest the ‘Cats got after that early hole was a 28-14 deficit early in the 3rd quarter. The Kentucky defense played well on 1st and 2nd downs throughout the game, forcing several 3rd-and-long plays from Alabama. The problem for the ‘Cats was 3rd down, as they surrendered 7 of 11 to the Alabama offense, with multiple plays gaining more than 15-yards. Kentucky will look to keep its focus as it heads to Columbia, South Carolina for a road matchup with the struggling Gamecocks next week. Following their final SEC game against the Gamecocks, Kentucky will again hit the road to face rival Louisville in the last game of the season.
It was the 42nd meeting between the two teams, with Alabama leading the series 38-2-1. The two Kentucky wins were a 7-0 win in 1922 and 1 40-34 OT win in 1997, with both wins coming in Lexington. The most recent meetings were both in Tuscaloosa with Alabama winning 34-6 in 2016 and 63-3 in 2020. The ‘Cats enter the game coming off of a 24-3 win over Mississippi State in Starkville last week. It was the first win in Starkville since 2008. QB Devin Leary did not play in the fourth quarter due to a concussion. The Kentucky running game has taken a step back in recent weeks, with star RB Ray Davis rushing for just 42 yards against Tennessee and 80 yards on 21 carries last week in Starkville. The 3.2 YPC for Davis is a step back from his hot start to the season. However, the passing game has begun to open up for the ‘Cats, with Leary throwing for 2 TDs in each of the previous 4 games. Leary brought an 18:7 TD to INT ratio into the matchup with Alabama, while throwing for an average of 211 YPG.
Alabama arrived in Lexington coming off a 42-28 win over LSU in Tuscaloosa last week. Dual-threat QB Jalen Milroe rushed for a season high 155 yards on 20 carries and 4 rushing TDs against the Tigers. Alabama’s offense is focused on its rushing attack, as the Crimson Tide have only attempted more than 23 passes in just two games this season. Milroe averages 229 passing YPG and 37 rushing YPG and has accumulated 22 total touchdowns (13 passing, 9 rushing) to just 5 INT on the season. RB Jase McClellan is the primary rushing option for the Crimson Tide, averaging 70 rushing YPG and accounting for 5 rushing TDs on the season. The primary passing targets for Milroe include Jermaine Burton (26 rec, 537 yds, 5 TDs), and Isaiah Bond (28 rec, 420 yds, 3 TDs). The Tide’s only loss only loss on the season came in the second game of the year against the Texas Longhorns in Tuscaloosa (34-24 loss). The Tide are undefeated in conference play, par for the course, with wins over Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU.
The spread for Saturday afternoon’s matchup was -11.5 (Alabama), with an Over/Under set at 47.
Kentucky won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Alabama received the opening kickoff. Alabama began their first drive on their own 20-yard line. Milroe scrambled for 5-yards on the first play of the game after the ‘Cats collapsed the pocket. The ‘Cats surrendered a first down on a 3rd-and-3 rushing attempt. Milroe rushed for a 16-yard gain and another set of downs. Milroe was injured on the play. Backup QB Ty Simpson replaced Milroe for one play before Milroe returned to the game. Hairston made a good open field tackle to force a 3rd-and-4 on the Kentucky 43-yard line. Milroe found Printice for just enough yards for a first down. Milroe tossed an end-around to Law for a gain of 11-yards. Milroe then found TE Niblack on a defensive breakdown for a 26-yard touchdown. The Tide took an early 7-0 lead after a 10 play, 80 yards drive on their first possession. Kentucky began their first drive on their own 16-yard line. Davis took the first carry of the game for a gain of 5-yards. The Crimson Tide got to Leary on the 3rd-down play for a sack to force a Kentucky punt. Alabama began the next drive on their own 45-yard line with 7:23-minutes to play in the first quarter. Milroe found Bond for a gain of 17-yards on first down. JQ Hardaway stayed home on a designed QB run and tackled Milroe for a loss of 5-yards. Milroe found a wide-open Prentice for a 40-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-12 play. The score was 14-0 Alabama after the PAT. The two Tide scores came on complete breakdowns in the Kentucky secondary. The next Kentucky drive began on their own 15-yard line. Leary found Brown for a short gain, but Brown fumbled the ball and Alabama picked it up and returned it to the Kentucky 1-yard line. The Crimson Tide sneaked the ball into the end zone on the next play. Alabama led 21-0 with 5:16-minutes to play in the first quarter. Kentucky began the next drive on the 25-yard line. Leary found Davis for a gain of 10-yards on a 3rd-and-15 play, forcing another Kentucky punt. McKinstry muffed the punt and Addison recovered the ball for Kentucky. The Kentucky drive continued on the Alabama 32-yard line with 4:13-mintutes to play. Davis rushed for a 5-yard gain on first down. Davis rushed for a first down on the next carry for the first first down of the game for the ‘Cats. Leary tried to find Brown in the endzone on a 3rd-down play but the Crimson Tide were called for pass interference, giving Kentucky the ball on the 2-yard line. Davis lost 4-yards on the first down carry. Leary found Robinson for a 6-yard touchdown. Alabama led 21-7 after the PAT with 1:30-minutes to play in the first quarter. Kentucky’s defense held on 3rd-down as Hairston made one of the better plays of the year on defense, forcing an Alabama punt to end the quarter. Alabama led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Kentucky began their next drive on their own 13-yard line after a 55-yard punt from Alabama. The Kentucky offense went 3-and-out on the drive and punted the ball back to Alabama. Alabama began their next drive on their own 38-yard line. Walker stopped McClellan for a loss of 3-yards on a first down run. Milroe then found a wide-open TE for a long gain. A holding penalty on the Crimson Tide pushed them behind the chains at 2nd-and-16 on the Kentucky 26-yard line. Milroe found Williams for a 26-yard touchdown on the next play. The Crimson Tide led 28-7 after the PAT. Kentucky’s next drive began on their own 25-yard line. Leary found Key for a gain of 25-yards on the first down throw. Leary then found a wide-open Bates for a gain of 33-yards to the Alabama 17-yard line. Leary found Davis for a gain of 7-yards to the Alabama 9-yard line to force a 4th-and-1. The ‘Cats were stopped on the 4th down attempt and the Crimson Tide took over the ball on their own 13-yard line. The ‘Cats defense forced a 3rd-and-11 play after a TFL. Milroe forced a pass to the middle of the field on a roll-out, and the pass was intercepted by Lovett for the ‘Cats. Kentucky began their next possession on the 50-yard line with 4:56-minutes to play. Leary found Key on a 3rd-down play for a first down on the Crimson Tide 38-yard line. Leary’s next 3rd-down pass was intercepted by Arnold. Alabama regained possession on their own 31-yard line with 2:39-minutes to play in the half. Kentucky’s defense forced a 3rd-and-13 play for Alabama. A defensive stand forced a Crimson Tide punt with 2-minutes left. The Kentucky possession began on their own 32-yard line. Leary found Kattus for a first down gain after a short Davis run. The Kentucky drive stalled at the 50-yard line and the ‘Cats were forced to punt. The punt rolled into the endzone and Alabama began their final drive of the half at their own 20-yard line. Alabama ran one play and led 28-7 at halftime.
Halftime: Alabama 28 – Kentucky 7
Kentucky received the second half kickoff. Leary conncted with Davis for a first down gain on a 2nd-an-10 play. Alabama was penalized for roughing the passer on a 3rd-down play, giving the ‘Cats a new set of downs on the Alabama 48-yard line. Leary found Kattus for an athletic catch that brought the ‘Cats down to the Alabama 20-yard line. Leary escaped several defenders on his way to finding Key for a 10-yard completion that was inches short of the first down. Leary took a 3rd-and-1 sneak for a first down to the Alabama 10-yard line. Brown took an end-around for a gain of 7-yards to the 2-yard line. Davis took the carry for a 2-yard touchdown. Kentucky narrowed the lead to 28-14 Alabama with 10:53-minutes to play in the third quarter. Alabama started their drive on their own 35-yard line. McClellan ran for a gain of 17-yards after an Alabama first down to the Kentucky 37-yard line. The next Crimson Tide play was stopped for a loss of 2-yards by Afari. Milroe overthrew a receiver on the next play to force a 3rd-and-12 form the Kentucky 40-yard line. Milroe found a wide-open Prentice for a gain of 30-yards on the 3rd-and-long. McClellan ran for another first down to the Kentucky 3-yard line. Milroe took a designed QB run for a touchdown. The PAT made the score 35-14 Alabama with 6:29-minutes to play in the quarter. Kentucky’s next drive was stalled due to a sack on 2nd-down. Kentucky punted the ball to the Crimson Tide, who began their next drive on the Kentucky 38-yard line. Alabama used multiple running backs and Milroe connected with Niblack to get the ball to the Kentucky 1-yard line. Alabama led 35-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Milroe took a QB sneak into the endzone for his 6th TD of the afternoon. The PAT gave the Crimson Tide a 42-14 lead. The next ‘Cats drive began on their own 25-yard line. The Kentucky offense stalled on a 3-and-out and were forced to punt the ball back to Alabama with 13:14-minutes to play. Ty Simpson entered at QB for Alabama on the drive. Simpson found a wide-open receiver on a 3rd-and-long for a first down gain to the Kentucky 44-yard line. Simpson found Hale again for a 27-yard gain to the Kentucky 17-yard line. Jam Miller rushed into the endzone for a 3-yard touchdown. The PAT pushed the Crimson Tide lead to 49-14 with 9:36-minutes to play. The touchdown was Miller’s first of the season. Ramon Jefferson took a carry for 74-yards and was tackled at the 1-yard line. Davis carried the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown on a 3rd-down carry. The PAT made the score 49-21 Alabama. Simpson moved the ball down the field for the Crimson Tide, but the drive ended with a punt back to Kentucky. Kentucky took over the ball on their own 12-yard line with 1:37-minutes to play. Sheron took over at QB for Kentucky. The ‘Cats ran the time out with the run game. Alabama defeated Kentucky 49-21.
Final: Alabama 49 – Kentucky 21
Kentucky – 253 (158 Passing, 95 Rushing)
Alabama – 444 (285 Passing, 159 Rushing)
Kentucky 2 – Alabama 2
Time of Possession:
Kentucky – 27:44 minutes
Alabama – 32:16 minutes
Devin Leary – [(17 comp – 31 att) (158 yds) (1 TD) (1 INT)]
Ray Davis – [(12 car) (26 rush yds) (2 rush TD), (5 rec) (32 rec yds)]
Ramon Jefferson – [(2 car) (73 rush yds)]
Dane Key – [(4 rec) (46 yds)]
Tayvion Robinson – [(2 rec) (10 yds) (1 TD)]
Ty Bryant – [(8 totTk) (5 solo)]
Deone Walker – [(5 totTk) (1 solo) (1 TFL) (1 QBH)]
Zion Childress – [(6 totTk) (3 solo) (1 TFL)]
Maxwell Hairston – [(4 totTk) (4 solo) (1 Pass BrUp)]
Jordan Lovett – [(1 INT)]
The ‘Cats (6-4, 3-3 SEC) will hit the road for the remainder of the season. Their next game will be versus the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-6, 2-5 SEC) in Columbia. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.