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No. 20 Kentucky shuts down Anthony Richardson, No. 12 Florida

Sep 10, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators running back Trevor Etienne (7) runs with the ball as Kentucky Wildcats defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine (8) tackles  during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Kentucky’s defense dominated No. 12 Florida Saturday night, holding the Gators scoreless in the second half for a 26-16 victory in a Southeastern Conference opener in Gainesville, Fla.

The Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 SEC) held the Gators (1-1, 0-1) to just 279 yards in total offense and came up with two interceptions and two late fourth-down stops to preserve the win, Kentucky’s third in the last five meetings with the Gators.

It gave the Wildcats consecutive victories in the series for the first time since 1976-77 and presented coach Mark Stoops with his 61st victory with the Wildcats, breaking a tie with Bear Bryant for the school record.

Will Levis was 13 of 24 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown for Kentucky, which was without leading returning rusher Chris Rodriguez Jr. for a second week. Kavosiey Smoke led the Wildcats in rushing with 80 yards.

Anthony Richardson struggled for Florida, going 14 of 35 passing for only 143 yards and rushing for just 4 more. His two interceptions led to 14 points for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats took a 23-16 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to Matt Ruffolo’s tying 24-yard field goal and Keidron Smith’s 65-yard interception return late in the third period. Ruffolo’s 26-yard field goal with 1:24 remaining clinched it.

After a lackluster first quarter that ended with Florida leading 3-0, the two teams combined for a wild second period.

The Gators scored their only touchdown on Trevor Etienne’s 11-yard run after gaining possession on Gervon Dexter Jr.’s interception. Adam Mihalek booted a 50-yard field goal and the Gators added a safety when Kentucky punter Colin Goodfellow was forced to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone after bad snap.

The Wildcats scored on Levis’ 55-yard touchdown strike to Dane Key and got their second on Levis’ sneak from a yard out following Jordan Wright’s one-handed interception and return to Florida’s 6-yard line.

–Field Level Media