Kentucky Hangs On To Defeat Louisiana, 40-33
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajun football team dropped their 2015 season opener on Saturday night, falling to the Kentucky Wildcats, 40-33, in non-conference action at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky.
Kentucky scored a touchdown with under 1:00 remaining to help them escape with a 7-point win.
Kentucky struck early, getting on the scoreboard on the first play from scrimmage, when Stanley Williams scored on a 75-yard touchdown run, giving them a quick 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 14-0 at the 6:17 mark of the initial period, when Patrick Towles connected with Garrett Johnson on a 35-yard touchdown pass, capping off 7-play, 99-yard drive, to make the score 14-0.
Towles threw his second touchdown of the half, this one to Jeff Badet from 37 yards out, :17 into the second quarter, completing a 5-play, 95-yard drive, giving UK 21-unanswered points, and a 21-0 lead.
Louisiana got on the scoreboard for the first time at the 8:33 mark of the second quarter, when Brooks Haack ended a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, cutting the Kentucky edge to 21-7.
The Wildcats scored the final points of the first half, when Austin MacGinnis converted on a 43-yard field goal with 2:16 left, giving them a 24-7 advantage, a lead they would take into the locker room at halftime.
MacGinnis kicked through his second field goal of the game, this one from 24 yards away, at the 9:54 mark of the third quarter, capping off a 7-play, 14-yard drive, accounting for the first points of the half, and a 27-7 UK lead.
It was then time for UL's special teams to score points, as Stevie Artigue made good on his first collegiate field goal attempt from 31 yards out, completing a 7-play, 61-yard drive, trimming the Kentucky lead to 27-10 at the 6:04 mark of the third frame.
Kentucky scored on their next possession, when Towles tossed his third touchdown of the game, this one to Blake Bone from 5 yards away, culminating a 5-play, 66-yard drive, to make the score 33-10, a score that stayed that way after a missed PAT.
Louisiana got a big play at the 1:26 mark of the third quarter, when Torrey Pierce scored on a 56-yard touchdown run, ending a 5-play, 74-yard drive, cutting the UK lead to 33-17, which is how the third quarter ended.
The Cajuns got to within 8 points at the 11:39 mark of the final quarter, when Pierce scored on his second touchdown run of the game, this one from 26 yards, putting an exclamation point of an 8-play, 71-yard drive.
After a successful two-point conversion by Louisiana, one in which Jalen Nixon completed a pass to Elijah McGuire, all of a sudden it was a one-score football game, with Kentucky up, 33-25.
The Cajuns weren't done though, and tied the game the game at the 7:23 mark when Nixon scored on a 23-yard run, followed by a two-point conversion run by McGuire, to even the score, 33-33.
The score gave UL 23-unanswered points over a span of 9:00, dating back to the second quarter.
UK scored the final touchdown however, one that proved to be the game-winner, with only :57 left, when Mikel Horton scored on a 12-yard touchdown run, to cap off a 9-play, 58-yard drive, to give them a 40-33 lead.
The Cajuns had one final opportunity, but couldn't move the football into Kentucky territory, as the Wildcats hung on for the win.
Louisiana outgained Kentucky, in terms of total yards, 479-435, including a 247-178 advantage on the ground, while the Wildcats finished with a 257-232 edge in the passing department.
Towles led the way for Kentucky, completing 16-of-34 passes for 257 yards, along with three touchdowns and one interception, while Williams finished with 135 yards, along with a touchdown, on 10 carries on the ground.
In a losing cause for Louisiana, Haack finished the game completing 22-of-37 passes for 194 yards, while Pierce added 110 rushing yards, including two scores, rushing-wise, with McGuire chipping in with 86 yards on 26 carries.
UL was -3 in turnovers, suffering two lost fumbles and two interceptions, while forcing one interception.
With the victory, the Wildcats open their year at 1-0, while the Cajuns fell to 0-1.
Louisiana returns to the gridiron next Saturday, when they host Northwestern St. in their home opener.