LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed 14 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns as Kentucky closed out the regular season by beating South Carolina 41-18 on Saturday night at Kroger Field.
Asim Rose also went over 100 yards on the night, also rushing 14 times for 101 yards and a score. Rose also caught a pass for 26 yards.
Quarterback Terry Wilson connected on 17 of his 26 passes for 201 yards and also rushed 14 times for 46 yards and a touchdown in the game.
South Carolina took the opening possession and marched into Kentucky territory. And on third down, the Gamecocks appeared to score on a touchdown pass. However, the play was called back for holding and the Gamecocks had to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt. But Parker White pushed the kick right and the game remained scoreless.
Kentucky took the ball and drove into South Carolina territory with a nice mix of passing and running plays. On fourth-and-three from the South Carolina 25, Wilson hit Josh Ali on an out pattern for a first down, getting the Cats inside the 10. But the Cats could not get in the end zone and settled for a 22-yard field goal that Matt Ruffolo converted, giving UK a 3-0 lead with 5:41 left in the first quarter.
On its next possession, South Carolina faced a second and five, but Zaquandre White was stripped by UK’s Jordan Wright, who also recovered the fumble and took it to the South Carolina 26. From there, Rose rushed 25 yards to the one yard line, then Chris Rodriguez Jr. took it in for the touchdown. Ruffolo added the PAT at Kentucky led 10-0 with 4:19 left in the first.
South Carolina got on the board later in the first quarter. The Gamecocks started at the Kentucky 40 thanks to a 52-yard kickoff return from Dakereon Joyner. But the drive stalled and the Gamecocks settled for a 47-yard field goal that White converted to cut the lead to 10-3 with 1:45 left in the first. That would be the score after 15 minutes of action.
After the teams exchanged punts, Kentucky took the ball on its own 19 and quickly moved the ball down the field. A pair of completions from Wilson to tight end Justin Rigg, one for 36 yards and another for 21, got the Cats into scoring position. And Rose did the rest, taking it in from eight yards out for the touchdown. Ruffolo again added the PAT and the Cats led 17-3 with 10:30 left in the half.
On its next drive, South Carolina moved the ball into Kentucky territory before Yusuf Corker picked off a Luke Doty pass at the UK 36. But the Cats could do nothing with the possession and were forced to punt. South Carolina returned the favor, punting on its next possession.
Kentucky took over at its own 39 with 4:40 left in the half. The Cats kept the ball on the ground, moving the ball into the South Carolina red zone. And on third-and-goal from the two, Rodriguez carried the pile into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. Ruffolo added another PAT and the Cats led 24-3 with 1:14 to play in the half.
South Carolina tried to get something going with its next possession, but Doty fumbled and Wright made another recovery, giving the Cats the ball on the South Carolina 33 with 42 seconds left in the half. The Cats got a big completion to Allen Dailey Jr. on the first play of the drive, but it was called back due to a penalty. But South Carolina returned the favor with a pass interference on the next play, giving the Cats the ball at the 23 with 23 seconds to play in the half.
After taking three unsuccessful shots at the end zone, the Cats settled for a 41-yard field goal from Ruffolo, who nailed it, giving the Cats a 27-3 lead as the half expired.
In the second half, Kentucky got the ball first and the Wildcats were able to add to their lead. Again, it was a nice mix of passing and running that allowed the Cats to move down the field. Kentucky used 13 plays to cover 75 yards, capping it off with a one-yard touchdown rush by Wilson. Ruffolo’s PAT made it 34-3 Cats with 7:28 left in the third quarter.
South Carolina got its first touchdown of the game on the next possession. Kevin Harris, who had XXX yards rushing in the game, took a handoff and went around left end for a 15-yard touchdown. White’s PAT cut the UK lead to 34-10 with 5:21 to play in the third. That would be the score after three quarters.
The Gamecocks would score again on a 30-yard pass from Doty to Joyner with 5:12 left. And a two-point conversion made it 34-18, but South Carolina would get no closer. In fact, on the first play of the next drive, Rodriguez broke through the left side and scampered 79 yards for his third touchdown of the night. Ruffolo’s PAT made it 41-18 with 4:56 to play.
Kentucky will now wait to find out its postseason destination. That information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.