NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Josh Clemons scored on a 14-yard
touchdown run, and Morgan Newton shook off three interceptions in
throwing a 31-yard TD pass to La'Rod King in helping the Wildcats
beat Western Kentucky 14-3 on Thursday night.
Kentucky had only 75 yards total offense through the first three
quarters before Newton drove them 80 yards late in the fourth to
put away the victory. The Southeastern Conference team handed
Western Kentucky its 16th straight home. The Hilltoppers were the
home team in this game played at the home of the NFL's Tennessee
Winston Guy had an interception that set up Clemons' TD run on a
night when the Wildcats struggled with at least six three-and-outs
on offense. They struggled to beat a team they routed 63-28 last
season with backups getting plenty of playing time.
Kentucky had six starters back, including four on the offensive
line, from a team that reached a fifth straight bowl last season.
It didn't help as the Wildcats' line got pushed around all night.
Kentucky struggled to get its offense going early with Newton
settling in at quarterback with the departure of Mike Hartline.
But the Wildcats led 7-3 at halftime despite being outgained
101-35 in total offense and 234-190 for the game.
The Hilltoppers also sacked Newton three times, and the Kentucky
quarterback had at least three passes dropped by receivers.
Newton got going just in time, shaking off two interceptions in
the fourth quarter, the last with 9:40 left and Kentucky driving.
Newton's pass bounced off an official's left arm and Wildcats guard
Stuart Hines before going to Western Kentucky defensive end Jared
Facing third-and-14 at the Kentucky 16, Newton ran up the middle
for 58 yards in the game's longest play before being dragged down.
He then found King wide open for a TD with 4:35 left.
The offenses struggled so much that the punters had the best
plays most of the game. Ryan Tydlacka had a 59-yard punt for
Kentucky that pinned the Hilltoppers deep, while Hendrix Brakefield
had a 58-yarder for Western Kentucky.
Western Kentucky held the ball for 34 minutes, and Bobby Rainey
ran for 107 yards, his sixth straight game with at least 100 yards
But the Hilltoppers scored their only points on a 41-yard field
goal by Casey Tinius after Vince Williams picked off Newton in the
first quarter. The Hilltoppers had a chance to pad the lead, but
Kawaun Jakes repeatedly overthrew receivers, including Jake Doyle
in the end zone. Then a low snap led Tinius to push a 34-yard
attempt wide right. Guy got his second interception on the final
play of the game as Jakes threw into the end zone.