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Defense and field goals key UK’s low-scoring win over South Carolina

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) calls for the snap during the first half of an NCAA college...
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (7) calls for the snap during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Louisiana-Monroe in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)(Michael Clubb | AP)
Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 1:31 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) -UK kicker Matt Ruffalo booted a trio of field goals and the Wildcat defense was stingy as Kentucky was able to hold off South Carolina 16-10 on Saturday night in Columbia, SC.

Running back Kavosiey Smoke scored the Cats’ lone touchdown in the first quarter as the visitors led 7-0. As the first half clock ticked down, Ruffalo booted a 43 yard field goal and Kentucky took a 10-0 lead into intermission.

South Carolina finally scored in the third quarter when Luke Doty fired a TD strike to Jalen Brooks to trim the Kentucky lead to 10-7. Ruffalo then closed out the scoring for the third quarter with a 21 field goal.

The Wildcats’ defense came up with key stops in the fourth quarter. That defense would get possession for the UK offense, which marched downfield to set up Ruffalo’s third three-pointer of game with under five minutes to play. The Gamecocks added a late field goal to trail 16-10.

Late in the contest, the Cats’ ground game ran out the clock. Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez, who rushed for 144 yards, was key on some of those rushes to help UK seal their victory.

The Wildcats did fumble the ball on a couple drives, which helped to keep the the Gamecocks within striking distance.

“Once again we did not make it easy. I’d like to make it easy one time,” said UK head coach Mark Stoops. “But I really thought our guys played well. The turnovers are definitely hurting us and hurt our momentum. It made the game close.”

The Wildcats, now 4-0 on the season, will host 11th ranked Florida on Saturday night at Kroger Field.

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