UK wins opener 35-20 over Central Michigan

A quick look back at the Cats' victory.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) – A.J. Rose and Benny Snell Jr. each rushed for two touchdowns, Gunnar Hoak came off the bench to throw the go-ahead TD pass and Kentucky overcame four first-half turnovers to beat Central Michigan 35-20 in its season opener on Saturday.

For a while the upset-minded Chippewas seemed poised to make the Wildcats their third Power Five victim in as many seasons by scoring all their points off takeaways and building a 17-7, second quarter lead. Kentucky rallied with two TDs over the final four minutes of the half, including Hoak’s 24-yard scoring pass to David Bouvier for a 21-20 edge with 14 seconds remaining.

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Kentucky shut out CMU from there, limiting the Chippewas to 97 second-half yards while outgaining them 427-255 overall to improve to 7-0 in the series.

Rose rushed for TDs of 55 and 4 yards on the way to 125 yards on 20 carries and his first career 100-yard game. Snell had TD runs of 52 and 11 yards to finish 104 yards rushing on eight attempts. Hoak completed 4 of 9 passes for 50 yards while temporarily relieving injured starter Terry Wilson (11 of 18 passing for 78 yards, two interceptions).

THE TAKEAWAY

Central Michigan: The Chippewas did everything necessary to position themselves for the upset by converting four turnovers into 20 points. Trouble was, that effort came before halftime and their reworked defense couldn’t stop Kentucky when it had to. Sophomore Tony Poljan completed 17 of 27 passes for 137 yards and Kumehnnu Gwilly rushed for a 4-yard TD.

Kentucky: The Wildcats’ flat offensive start resulted in costly first-half turnovers that almost handed another Power Five upset to Central Michigan. Wilson was hurt while throwing his second interception, and his brief absence opened the door for Hoak to lead the go-ahead TD drive. Wilson returned to lead another TD drive that extended the lead, but Hoak’s pinch-hit effort illustrated why the QB competition was so close.

UP NEXT

Central Michigan hosts Big 12 representative Kansas on Sept. 8, seeking its second consecutive series victory and third over a Power Five school in as many years.

Kentucky opens Southeastern Conference play on Sept. 8 at rebuilding Florida in search of its first series victory over the Gators since 1986.

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Alex Risen joined the ABC 36 News team in October of 2011 as ABC 36’s Weekend Sports Anchor/ Sports Reporter. Alex can also be seen Friday nights co-anchoring the Highschool Highlight Reel. Alex started out in the broadcast business while still in college at the University of Kentucky, heading up the school’s daily student news network as the Sports Director. He made his commercial televsion debut in May of 2011 while at WYMT in Hazard, Kentucky as co-host of a weekly, half-hour high school sports program previewing area schools’ games on Friday nights and as a morning sports anchor. Alex has also spent time as an intern at ESPN in the Statistics and Analysis department, as a production assistant for NBC Sports horse racing and Sunday Night Football productions, and as an intern for WLKY in his hometown of Louisville, KY. Alex graduated from Saint Xavier High School in 2007 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Kentucky in 2010 where he graduated magna cum laude from the Honors Program. He’s excited to be covering his passion in his home state and make Central Kentucky his home for years to come. Alex can be reached at ARisen@wtvq.com