A year after seeing their 31-game winning streak against Kentucky snapped, No. 9 Florida hopes to have started a new streak. Florida’s 29-21 victory in Lexington was all but clinched when a last-minute field goal by Kentucky narrowly missed going through the posts for a go-ahead score. But the win comes with a tough loss as Florida’s starting quarterback Feleipe Franks was carted off with an injury during the second half.
Franks suffered a serious-looking injury late in the third quarter when he was pinned between defenders on a 4th and 1. Franks was taken off the field on a cart after his entire team came out to wish him well. It looked as though Franks dislocated his ankle, and the emotion on his face coming off the field told a not-so-optimistic outlook moving forward.
With Franks injured, Kyle Trask took over at quarterback and immediately went to work. Trask completed four of his first five passes and led the Gators to a touchdown on his first series, with Lamical Perine capping the drive with an eight-yard run for the score. That touchdown meant Kentucky had to keep its foot on the gas pedal for the remaining 12 minutes. Unfortunately for Kentucky, the gas pedal wasn’t quite working anymore.
The Wildcats were forced to punt on the ensuing possession and Sawyer Smith was intercepted on their next possession. That setup Florida to take the lead with a Trask touchdown run from four yards out. The drive was given a boost when a Kentucky player was ejected for targeting. Immediately after the targeting ejection gave Kentucky 15 free yards, Trask completed a 30-yard pass to Kyle Pitts before ending the drive with the go-ahead touchdown run.
Kentucky kicker Chance Poore missed a would-be-go-ahead field goal from 35 yards out with 54 seconds to play, giving Florida the ball back with a chance to ice the game. A 76-yard run by Josh Hammond effectively did that, although Kentucky still got the ball back while trailing by eight points. But Florida’s defense made sure there would be no more scoring by Kentucky for the night.
Florida has now won 16 straight games at Kentucky. The Wildcats missed a chance to celebrate their first home win against Florida since 1986, and their first back-to-back wins against Florida since 1976-1977.
A few of players were also tossed from the game for targeting penalties. In the first quarter, Kentucky’s Yusuf Corker was ejected for a hit. Corker will be eligible play in Kentucky’s next game from the start. His teammate, T.J. Carter will have to sit the first half because he was ejected in the fourth quarter of the game for a hit on Trask (Carter’s targeting penalty led to Florida taking the 22-21 lead). Florida’s Donovan Stiner was ejected in the second half, which means he will have to miss the first half of Florida’s next game. It was the first targeting penalty this season for each player.
SEC play will continue for both teams next week. Kentucky will take to the road to face Mississippi State in a cross-division matchup. The Bulldogs took a loss at home earlier in the day against Kansas State, so they’ll be looking to bounce back from a loss. Kentucky defeated the Bulldogs last season, 28-7. Florida will remain in the SEC East to face Tennessee in Gainesville. The Vols finally got into the win column earlier in the day after dropping the first two games of the season at home.