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All of the Times Kentucky Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory at Ole Miss

Nick Roush10/01/22

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Article written by:On3 imageNick Roush

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Tayvion Robinson Ole Miss
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

This portion of Kentucky Sports Radio is typically dedicated to takeaways, both good and bad, from the Kentucky football game. Yes, there were some good, but now is not the time to be positive. Kentucky snatched defeat from the jaws of victories time and time and time again in Oxford.

1. Missed 39-Yard Field Goal

Entering the season Matt Ruffolo ranked fourth all-time in field goal kicking percentage, one spot ahead of Austin MacGinnis, netting 81.3% of his attempts. He opened the season by making 6-of-7. His number was called on the second drive as Kentucky trailed 7-0. Lined up right in the middle of the field, Ruffolo hooked the kick to the right, keeping three points off the scoreboard.

2. TWO Missed PATs

I could have made this two separate bullet points, but I’m not that much of a sicko. After falling behind 14-0, Barion Brown exploded on the ensuing kickoff return to get the ball into the red zone. Two plays later, the Wildcats scored a touchdown. Matt Ruffolo’s PAT was blocked.

The Wildcats responded before halftime. A 9-play, 70-yard drive ended with a Tayvion Robinson receiving touchdown. This time Ruffolo never even got a chance to kick the ball. A bad snap and hold forced Chance Poore to throw it away. Dating back to the 2020 loss, Matt Ruffolo had three straight PAT gaffes, a streak that finally ended following a third quarter Jordan Dingle touchdown.

3. Safety

The Wildcats handed two points to Ole Miss in the second quarter. After a tackle for loss on first down, Kentucky was backed up deep in their own territory. Instead of calling a safe run on third and 12, Rich Scangarello dropped Levis back to pass. The Kentucky quarterback tried to get rid of it, but could not escape the pocket. He threw the ball away in the end zone, resulting in a safety (and a dislocated middle finger on his non-throwing hand).

4. Barion Brown Tripped

Kentucky could have been playing ahead for most of the second half. Ole Miss made the mistake of kicking the ball to Barion Brown for a second time. He sprinted down the sideline, then stopped on a dime to redirect, bringing back memories of Reggie Bush’s iconic juke against Fresno State. Brown had green grass in front of him with blockers, prepared to score the go-ahead touchdown. Then La’Vell Wright got too close and tripped his own teammate. The Wildcats went four-and-out, turning it over on downs.

5. Third Down Fumble for Will Levis

We saw textbook Kentucky football in the fourth quarter. After stopping Ole Miss on fourth and goal, Kentucky methodically moved the ball down the field. The Wildcats chewed up clock and entered the red zone with less than three minutes to play. On third and two Will Levis faked the hand-off to Chris Rodriguez and kept it. He appeared to get the first down when he was met head-on. The collision forced a fumble, giving the ball back to Ole Miss. ESPN’s Todd Blackledge argued for a targeting call, but the play was not reviewed.

6. Touchdown Erased by Pre-Snap Penalty

Barion Brown did it again. The true freshman took a screen pass 51 yards down the field to put Kentucky inside the 10-yard line. Levis wasted no time. Looking to catch the Rebels on their heels, he threw a jump ball to Dane Key in the end zone. The freshman made a terrific catch as the BBN celebrated the go-ahead score.

The taste of victory was fleeting. Officials flagged Kentucky for illegal motion. The ball was snapped as Brown stepped back to plant his foot and get set. The touchdown was wiped away, but Kentucky still had a minute and only 12 yards to go to win the game.

7. Game-Ending Strip Sack

The Wildcats only got one shot at the end zone. Levis was looking for a player to break on a double move when David Wohlabaugh, who was filling in for the cramping Jeremy Flax, got beat around the end of the line of scrimmage. Ole Miss recorded a strip sack, Kentucky’s second red zone fumble in the final three minutes, to end the game.

Kentucky Eliminates Room for Error

The margin of error to win this game was as wide as it’s ever been for Kentucky to defeat a Top 15 SEC opponent on the road. The Wildcats made more than a handful of crippling mistakes and still should have won the football game. The loss eliminates Kentucky’s margin for error.

To get where Kentucky wants to go, the Wildcats had to win two of three SEC road games. Mark Stoops won’t look ahead, but now the Tennessee game enters must-win territory for the Wildcats. Despite the loss, a special season is still on the table. It won’t be as easy after countless mistakes in Oxford.

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2023-01-26