Big Blue Notes: Johnson carries Kentucky past Tennessee on late 11-yard touch down run

Eric Howard is a Calvert City native who lives in Lexington and is a committed UK Wildcat fan. His column 'Big Blue Notes' appears regularly in The Lake News.

Eric Howard is a Calvert City native who lives in Lexington and is a committed UK Wildcat fan. His column ‘Big Blue Notes’ appears regularly in The Lake News.

Cats down the Vols
In front of a chilly Kroger Field crowd, the University of Kentucky defeated Tennessee on Saturday evening for just the second time in 33 years. With many former players and coaches in the stands, it took everything the Wildcats had to secure 29-26 victory over their neighbor to the south.

Kentucky fumbled the ball an astounding four times during the game; each time giving the Volunteers the football inside the 50 yard line. The Wildcats also temporarily lost quarterback Stephen Johnson to a shoulder injury. The senior returned to the game in the fourth quarter to a rousing applause. Johnson went on to lead the Wildcats on the game-winning drive capped off by his 11-yard touchdown run.

Johnson joins a rare club of Wildcat quarterbacks to have defeated Tennessee. He also becomes the first Kentucky quarterback in nearly 80 years to defeat Louisville and Tennessee in consecutive attempts. In addition to the historic win, Mark Stoops and company became bowl eligible for the second straight year.

The Wildcats, now 6-2 on the season, have remaining games against Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Louisville. Kentucky is a 4.5 point favorite heading in to Saturday’s match-up with Ole Miss. The Cats and the Rebels will kick off from Kroger Field at 3 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Freshmen impress in Kentucky’s first exhibition
John Calipari’s squad took on Thomas More College on Friday evening in Rupp Arena. Following Big Blue Madness and the Blue White Game, the exhibition was the first opportunity for the young Wildcats to face a real opponent.

Despite the obviously difference in talent and height against the Division III opponent, the Wildcats played well for their first time in a game setting. Freshmen Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington were the standouts for the Wildcats. The two forwards will likely bookend Kentucky’s frontcourt this season while freshman center Nick Richards looked impressive in his debut.

Kentucky’s three guards all looked good as well. Hamidou Diallo’s amazing athletic ability was on full display. Point guard Quade Green appears to have a good feel for running Calipari’s offense while fellow freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will fill in at both guard spots.

After taking on Morehead State this past Monday evening, the Wildcats will finish out their exhibition slate on Friday against Centre College. The game will tipoff from Rupp Arena at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised on the SEC Network.

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