CRAWFORD | So close: Thoughts on UK's overtime loss at Florida - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | So close: Thoughts on UK's overtime loss at Florida

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GAINESVILLE, Fl. (WDRB) -- So you think this is easy? Eight minutes to play, the University of Kentucky football program is either on its way to an historic victory in Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, or its 28th straight loss to the Gators.

No pressure. Business as usual, or everything has changed. Back and forth. Overtime. Great. Final: Florida 36, Kentucky 30. The losing streak continues. But that doesn't nearly cover it.

How's this? We'll sort out all that poignant stuff in a column a little later. But one quick reaction from UK coach Mark Stoops.

"We didn't play perfect," Stoops said. "But we made a perfect effort." Asked if the game, though a loss, might have been his proudest moment of a UK team, he said, "I guess that's fair to say, yes."

Sometimes, there are conclusions that can be drawn no matter what the score is. I usually only do three and out on these columns, but in overtime, we're going to have to add more.

1). UK BELONGED ON THE FIELD WITH FLORIDA.  I said before the game we'd all know, regardless of score, whether we were watching two comparable teams tonight, or whether Florida still outclassed the Wildcats in athleticism and talent.

I think we all know, UK belongs. It's not as talented as Florida yet. Maybe it won't be. It's certainly not as deep as Florida. But here's what the Wildcats do have: They have a better quarterback. They have a better coaching staff. And their talent is comparable. Don't miss the meaning of that. Let me give you the definition of that: "able to be likened to another; similar."

UK is younger than Florida. It lacks the number of blue-chip players that Will Muschamp has in Gainesville. But the gap isn't nearly what it has been for many of the past 27 years of losses.

None other than Paul Finebaum, ESPN's million-dollar-plus SEC guru, said during a timeout with 5:33 left in the game and Florida leading 20-17, via Twitter: "Regardless of how this game ends, Kentucky has earned a lot of respect tonight in the Swamp."

2). PATRICK TOWLES, MISTAKES AND ALL, NEVER SHRANK FROM THE SWAMP. Say that for the redshirt sophomore. He played with confidence. He threw some dangerous passes. He threw several that should've been picked of that weren't. He threw three costly interceptions, but those weren't all on him. He also made huge throws, four of them to freshman wideout Garrett Johnson. He rallied the team after Florida took a 13-10 lead, and his 51-yard TD to Johnson had a chance of turning the game, but a personal foul by UK after the TD helped set Florida up with good field position and a quick answer. For the game, Towles finished with 369 yards passing.

And after what looked like could have been a back-breaking intentional grounding call with a minute to play, he stood cool in his own end zone and hit Johnson over the middle for a 22-yard third down conversion that changed momentum.

He was picked off on his last pass of the night, but he hit Johnson in the hands over the middle, and when the freshman couldn't bring it down, Florida came down with the interception.

3). BOOM WILLIAMS. First play of overtime. Towles throws a screen pass to Stanley (and you can forget that name) "Boom" Williams, who cuts right, then reverses field, eludes a tackler, then another, then heads hard to the left sideline and dives in, just edging the ball over the pylon for a touchdown. There were a few plays in this game that UK fans will see as historic. But that one is the one they'll remember. They'd just have called it the Boom. Had UK won the game.

4). PHANTOM PLAY CLOCK. Florida was done. It was fourth and new coach. Kentucky's defense was stiffening. Then Jeff Driskel dropped back to pass, and found Demarcus Robinson, somehow, uncovered in the end zone for the tying score on Florida's first overtime possession. Later, screen shots of the play showed Florida likely didn't get the play off in time. Didn't matter. UK still had work to do.

5). CREDIT CODY QUINN for one of the biggest defensive plays of overtime. He applied just enough distraction to get Robinson to drop what would've been a touchdown on third down during Florida's second OT possession.

6). THE FACE MASK OF FATE
. UK looked done. It had backed itself up with a procedure penalty on first down. It was facing third and long. Then Florida nose tackle Darious Cummings grabbed the face mask of UK's Braylon Heard, and the Wildcats had a first down and new life. It allowed them to drive to the nine yard line, and a tying field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Austin MacGinnis.

7). OH, I SHOULD'VE MENTIONED MacGINNIS BY NOW. Kid kicked a 52-yarder to tie the game. Florida missed two field goals in the game. MacGinnis hit from 47, but whistles blew the play dead and UK was backed up five yards for a procedure. The practice helped. He drained the three like Aaron Harrison. Okay, he didn't exactly drain it. It hit the upright and bounced through. But still. Onions.

8). IT IS 11:40 P.M. AS I TYPE THIS. I got up at 5. Just felt like mentioning that.

9). WIDE RIGHT. The Wildcats couldn't get anything going on their third overtime possession. They called on MacGinnis again, from 41 yards out. It was wide right. Florida takes over at the 25.

10). MATT JONES. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? Florida running back Matt Jones carried the backbreaker. He ran for 16 yards on Florida's third overtime. He then carried for five. He then ran it in. He finished the game with 29 carries for 156 yards. And the final one hurt the most.

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