Rapid Reaction: Seniors dominate as Kentucky rolls to easy win over New Mexico State
On Senior Day, Kentucky’s senior class picked up its 31st victory in the past 4 seasons, but the Wildcats didn’t always look flawless doing it Saturday. They beat New Mexico State 56-16, but it won’t be remembered as a thing of beauty. Nonetheless, the game included some memorable moments for several Wildcats in their final home game.
Senior defensive back Quandre Mosley had a pick-6. Senior tight end Justin Rigg caught 2 touchdown passes. Senior receiver Josh Ali added 2 more TDs, and Wan’Dale Robinson had a big day in what will almost certainly be his final UK home game. The offense was effective, with QB Will Levis passing for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Robinson and Ali each eclipsing 100 receiving yards easily.
Kentucky finished with 707 yards of total offense, 2nd-most in program history.
Kentucky’s sloppy day started on their first offensive possession, when Levis mishandled a snap on the 3rd play, and then failed to cover the loose ball, with New Mexico State’s Trevor Brohard recovering it and returning it 25 yards for a TD and 7-0 lead.
Kentucky answered by going 81 yards in 5 plays, covering the last 32 yards on a Levis to Justin Rigg touchdown connection that tied the score at 7 with 9:27 left in the quarter. After the teams traded punts, New Mexico State QB Jonah Johnson floated a pass on the outside that Mosley read and turned into an easy 38-yard pick-6 to give UK a 14-7 lead with 5:54 left in the quarter. The Wildcats forced a punt and then went 91 yards in 8 plays, with the biggest play being a 29-yard toe-tapping sideline connection from Levis to Robinson. On the next play, Chris Rodriguez finished the drive with a 6-yard scoring run that extended the UK lead to 21-7.
New Mexico State cut the lead to 21-10 on a 50-yard field goal from Ethan Albertson with 12:06 left in the half. Kentucky answered with a quick touchdown drive than included a 37-yard Robinson reception. Levis connected with Robinson from 9 yards out to complete the drive and extend the UK lead to 28-10. New Mexico State answered with another field goal. Kentucky seemed poised to respond after a 79-yard Levis to Robinson pass, but on the following play, Rodriguez lost a fumble at the New Mexico State 2. The Wildcats got a stop and then drove for a touchdown, this one coming on a 2-yard Levis run with 46 seconds left in the half. The Aggies added a 32-yard field goal on the last play, cutting the score to 35-16.
After halftime, UK extended its advantage on a 62-yard connection from Levis to Ali. Shortly before the end of the quarter, Kavosiey Smoke added a 23-yard touchdown run. With the reserves in the game, backup QB Beau Allen added a 3-yard TD run to stretch the score to 56-16 with 11:40 to play.
Kentucky, despite continuing to post some of the worst turnover stats in the nation, moved to 8-3 ahead of next week’s in-state rivalry matchup with Louisville.
The rivals didn’t play last season due to the pandemic, but Kentucky has won the past 2 in the series. The senior class would need to beat Louisville and then win a bowl game to match the most wins in program history in a 4-year stretch (33, 1949-52).