Kentucky celebrated Senior Day in a big way at Kroger Field. Tarnished only by a couple of turnovers, the Wildcats racked up 707 yards of offense and ran away with a 56-16 win over New Mexico State in the final home game of the 2021 season. UK improves to 8-3 entering the season finale at Louisville.
The Kentucky seniors made the most of their final game in Lexington. Tight end Justin Rigg was the first to get in on all of the fun, left wide open to score a 32-yard touchdown pass, the first of two scores for the super senior. Cornerback Quandre Mosely chipped in from the other side of the line of scrimmage, returning an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, Kentucky’s fourth defensive score of the 2021 season.
Rigg could only be outdone by his fellow senior, Josh Ali. The South Florida catcher had seven receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns, including a breakaway 62-yard score.
Offensive Star Milestones
Even though he’s not a senior, if it’s Wan’Dale Robinson‘s last game at Kroger Field, he left with a bang. Wan’Dale became Stoops’ first ever 1,000-yard receiver, hauling in eight receptions for 181 yards. He’s now only six away from breaking the UK single-season record.
Will Levis completed 21-of-31 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns. It’s the first 400+ yard passing game by a Wildcat since Andre Woodson in 2007. Of course, Chris Rodriguez tallied another 100-yard game, his seventh of the season, the second-most in school history. He finished the night with 119 and a touchdown on 16 carries. Kavosiey Smoke even got in a 23-yard touchdown score.
A Few Bad Turnovers
The game was not always pretty, in fact, it started quite ugly. On the third offensive play of the game, Levis let the snap slip through his fingers. After failing to fall on the fumble, New Mexico State scooped it and scampered 25 yards for a score.
Levis had another turnover too, but the second wasn’t so bad. The UK quarterback got a little greedy when he fired a ball toward a well-defended Chauncey Magwood in the zone.
You can live with the aggressive Levis interception. You cannot live with another Rodriguez fumble near the end zone. His third fumble inside the five-yard line this fall spoiled Robinson’s 79-yard gain on the play before, the longest play of the season.
Exceptional Defensive Performance
It will get overlooked by a few aggravating drives, but Kentucky’ defense performed quite well at Kroger Field. In addition to the Mosely pick six, the Wildcats forced six three-and-outs, a pair of four-and-outs and did not let the Aggies into the end zone. Trevin Wallace forced a fumble late, the first time all season the Wildcats forced two turnovers in a game.
Beau Allen Got In
Many Kentucky football fans have been waiting for a big win for Beau Allen to get in. Levis sat in the fourth quarter, letting Allen rip a few passes. A dart to Jordan Dingle for a gain of 23 was his most impressive throw of the day. He actually made his best play with his legs, rushing for his first career touchdown.
Beau didn’t hog all of the snaps. Even Nik Scalzo got in on the action in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in a feel-good win for the Wildcats.