Cats Roll in Second Half, Whip Kent State

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - On a team with so many offensive playmakers, blocking specialists tend not to get the ball much, but fullback John Conner's breakout couldn't have come at a better time for Kentucky.

Conner had two of Kentucky's six rushing TDs - the first two of his career - as the Wildcats' offense overcame their porous rushing defense to defeat Kent State 56-20 Saturday night.

``I was just hoping they'd give me some love and give me the ball a little bit,'' Conner said.

Considering the way Kentucky played in the first half, anything was worth a try.

Coached by Kentucky alumnus Doug Martin, the Golden Flashes diced the Wildcats' defense for 215 rushing yards in the first half - including 124 from Eugene Jarvis and 79 from quarterback Julian Edelman.

The Golden Flashes (1-1) ran for 324 yards in the game, and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks - convinced his team wasn't looking ahead to Louisville - gave his players an earful at halftime.

``I guess maybe I need to rant and rave more often,'' Brooks said. ``I told them we need to play like we're capable of rather than like we're sleep walking.''

Kentucky (2-0) awakened in a hurry.

Tony Dixon, Andre Woodson, Alfonso Smith and Derrick Locke each added TD runs, Locke's from 67 yards out on just his second career carry as Kentucky racked up 266 rushing yards, most in the second half.

Conner scored on Kentucky's opening drives of both halves, including a 16-yard scamper four minutes after halftime that gave the Wildcats the lead for good. Coming into the game, Conner had only two other carries in his career.

Kentucky's Rafael Little didn't reach the end zone but had 13 carries for 102 yards, becoming the first Wildcats player - and fourth in the history of the Southeastern Conference - with 2,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.

``I couldn't do it without my offensive line,'' Little said.

However, that same line stalled Woodson and Kentucky's high-powered passing attack in the first half.

Woodson completed 15 of 22 passes for 218 yards and two TDs, but he was sacked four times - all in the first half. He didn't seem in sync until late in the third quarter when he fired a 51-yard TD to Keenan Burton to give Kentucky a three-touchdown cushion.

Before that, the Golden Flashes gave Kentucky a scare with its option offense - a scheme that also troubled the Wildcats last year against another Mid-American Conference foe, Central Michigan.

Defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, one of few Kentucky players who stood out on defense with a sack and two pass deflections, said Edelman's skill came as a surprise.

``If anything, we may have underestimated him because we didn't think he could make some of the plays against us that he made against other teams,'' Jarmon said.

The two teams headed to halftime tied at 14 after time ran out before Kent State could try a go-ahead field goal, but things could have been much worse for the Wildcats early.

Kentucky forced Kent State to punt only once in the half, but turnovers stopped three other drives in their tracks. Among them was an interception by Calvin Harrison that halted a drive on the Kentucky 8-yard line.

The Golden Flashes used some trickery to get on the board first with a 6-yard fake field goal run by holder Leneric Muldrow.

Woodson answered less than two minutes later, finding receiver Steve Johnson, who dodged three would-be tacklers to score from 33 yards.

The Wildcats host intrastate rival Louisville next week in a battle of two offenses that have combined for 237 points through their first two games.

``Who's not excited about Louisville?'' Jarmon said. ``It seems like in our fans' minds, that's the only game that counts.''