Florida vs. Kentucky score, takeaways: Behind backup QB, No. 9 Gators come back to stun 'Cats
The Gators got the revenge they were seeking, and the Wildcats wilted late in the game
Kentucky ended Florida's 31-game winning streak in their annual series last year when the Wildcats stunned the Gators in Gainesville, Florida. On Saturday night in Lexington, Kentucky, the No. 9 Gators got revenge in a dramatic and gut-wrenching 29-21 victory. Kentucky kicker Chance Poore's 35-yard field goal attempt with 54 seconds left sailed wide right after a nine-play, 57-yard drive to get within field goal range with the 'Cats down a single point.
To make things worse for Kentucky, Florida senior wide receiver Josh Hammond took off on a 76-yard touchdown run after the missed field goal while the Gators were trying to run out the clock and the Wildcats attempted to use their three timeouts to get one last shot.
It was a fitting way to end a wild second half. Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks suffered a gruesome injury and was the field late in the third quarter down 21-10. Coach Dan Mullen later noted that Franks suffered a dislocated ankle and would likely be out the remainder of the season.
Kyle Trask, Franks' classmate and backup, came off the bench to throw for 126 yards and score a rushing touchdown, leading the Gators from 11 down to 19 unanswered points and victory.
What are the main takeaways from Saturday night's barn-burner in the Bluegrass State?
1. Trask is the real deal: There's no question that Franks is the unquestioned leader of the Gators offense, but it's not like Trask was unproven. Sure, the redshirt junior's game action has been limited throughout his career, but he was actually Florida's starting quarterback for about 36 hours in November 2018 after Franks struggled against Missouri. But a season-ending foot injury in practice handed the job back to Franks, who locked it up with a great close to the season.
Where does Florida go from here? The same place it was going before. Franks was the leader and has had moments of brilliance, but he has been erratic at times and was again on Saturday with a lost fumble and confounding interception. Trask can clearly handle the pressure of a hostile road environment in a revenge game. That's a pretty big foundation to build on, especially when he already won the job 10 months ago. Florida was competitive with Franks, and nothing will change with Trask -- including the thoughts of another New Year's Six bowl appearance and contending with Georgia in the SEC East.
2. Mark Stoops is severely underrated: Kentucky was 2-10 and 0-8 in the SEC in Stoops' first season at the helm in 2013. Since then, the Wildcats have either matched or improved upon their overall record and conference record every year, culminating with last season's 10-3 season and 5-3 conference mark, which included a de facto SEC East Championship Game vs. Georgia.
This isn't the old Kentucky. The old Kentucky would have crumbled after the season-ending injury to Terry WIlson. The old Kentucky would have fallen off of a cliff after losing superstar running back Benny Snell and star edge linebacker Josh Allen to the NFL. The old Kentucky would have wouldn't hang in a revenge game vs. a traditional power.
This Kentucky did, thanks to Stoops' ability to build and sustain a program that is no longer a doormat. Does that mean that another 10-win season is in store? Maybe not. But if Kentucky regresses to a seven- or eight-win team after losing two superstars and its starting quarterback after two games, that would signify tremendous progress for a program that hasn't been able to sustain success in the SEC. Stoops is one of the most underrated coaches in the country.
3. This series is wild: Saturday's game was insane. The 31-year Florida winning streak was broken last year. Kentucky forgot to cover UF's receivers twice in 2017. The Gators topped the Wildcats in a controversial three-overtime game in 2013. This is what the SEC East needs -- more fun.
Georgia has become a monster in the division, and Tennessee's ineptitude has diminished the rivalries that Georgia and Florida have with the Vols. Kentucky-Florida has stepped in to provide much-needed entertainment in a division that hasn't exactly been the deepest division in the country. The upward trajectory of both programs should make next year's edition must-see TV.
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