Strong Defensive Effort Leads Kentucky to 17-7 Victory Over Vanderbilt
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A stifling defensive effort limited Vanderbilt to 139 yards of total offense and propelled Kentucky to a 17-7 win on a perfect Saturday afternoon, in front of a season-best 56,940 at Commonwealth Stadium.Kentucky (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) posted its first league win in the head coach Mark Stoops era, while showcasing a dominating defense that handcuffed Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3 SEC) into just 85 passing and 54 rushing yards. In holding Vandy to just 139 yards, it marked the fewest yards allowed by UK in an SEC game since holding the Dores to 91 yards in 1996.
The Wildcats jumped out to a first-quarter lead on a 20-yard pass from UK sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles to sophomore Ryan Timmons, completing a 13-play, 99-yard drive. Towles was 9-for-9 on the drive, connecting with eight different receivers.
The Dores then evened up the game on a 13-yard interception return for a touchdown from Darrius Sims in the second quarter. UK answered immediately on the strength of a 44-yard field goal from freshman Austin MacGinnis, completing an 11-play, 47-yard drive.
UK stretched the lead to the final margin with a first-half ending 66-play drive that concluded with Towles plunging in on third and one with eight seconds in the frame. It improved UK’s stretch of outscoring foes in the first half through four games to 72-10, with the UK defense not allowing a touchdown on the campaign.
With the Commodores facing a 10-point hole after intermission, UK’s defense went to work, picking off three passes in the fourth quarter to clinch the conference win for UK, improving the Wildcats to 3-0 at home in 2014.
UK’s defense totaled three interceptions, charting four sacks and forcing VU quarterback Wade Freebeck into an 8-for-23 game. UK’s front seven was paced by 1.5 sacks from senior defensive end Alvin “Bud” Dupree, with Ashely Lowery, Marcus McWilson and A.J. Stamps each recording interceptions. The interception for McWilson, a sophomore safety, marked his first career pick.
A native of Ft. Thomas, Ky., Towles was 23-for-30 from the air for 201 yards, notching rushing and receiving touchdowns. Through his first four career starts, Towles has totaled 1,117 passing yards and six touchdowns, completing 62-percent of his passes (84-for-135).
On the ground, junior Braylon Heard rushed a career-best 15 times for 64 yards, with sophomore Jojo Kemp totaling 60 yards on eight carries. Freshman Mikel Horton rushed six times for 31 yards, with freshman Stanley Williams charting 27 rushing yards on five carries, 39 yards on three catches and 56 yards on two kick returns.
Senior Javess Blue hauled in a game-high four catches, collecting 35 yards. Timmons, who notched his third career touchdown and his first of the year, finished with three catches for 34 yards.
Kentucky will return to action on Saturday, playing host to No. 13 South Carolina in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium. The game will be televised live on the SEC Network and will be also be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network, with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel calling the action.