LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Benny Snell Jr. ran for 99 yards and one of Kentucky's three consecutive first-half touchdowns before the No. 17 Wildcats held on for a 24-10 victory over South Carolina on Saturday night.
Kentucky (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference or 4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) quashed initial concerns about a letdown following their first Top 25 ranking since November 2007 by scoring on four straight drives to lead 24-3 at halftime. The Wildcats ended up needing that cushion to offset a scoreless second half and Jake Bentley's 58-yard, third quarter TD pass that kept the Gamecocks (2-2, 1-2) within striking distance.
Mike Edwards' interception with 3:47 remaining snuffed one chance by the Gamecocks before they turned the ball over on downs in the final minute. That sealed Kentucky's fifth consecutive series win and continued its best SEC start since 1977.
Snell's rushing yardage on 28 carries also made him the third Wildcat to break 3,000 career. His 4-yard score with 4:53 remaining in the second quarter extended his TD record to 40. Quarterback Terry Wilson and A.J. Rose ran for TDs from 1 and 24 yards as Kentucky edged South Carolina 327-321 in yardage. The Wildcats also registered four takeaways, scoring 10 points off a fumble and interception.
Kentucky's first Top 25 presence in 11 years will last another week.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks' passing game cranked up after halftime and they were within two possessions midway in the fourth quarter. But catch-up through the air also resulted in costly interceptions by Bentley (13 of 28 passing, 148 yards), including one in the end zone.
Kentucky: The Wildcats seemed headed toward a second consecutive SEC rout at the break by dominating the Gamecocks on both sides of the ball. A scoreless second half opened the door for South Carolina, but the defense came up with two timely turnovers to preserve the lead. That was enough to offset the TD that marked the first points they've allowed in the third quarter this season.
South Carolina hosts Missouri on Saturday to open a three-game homestand.
Kentucky visits Texas A&M on Saturday in its first SEC meeting with the Aggies.
No. 17 Kentucky opened up a 24-3 lead in the first half Saturday night against South Carolina and held on to win 24-10 to improve to 5-0.
The Wildcats are now 3-0 in the SEC and they have now won five consecutive games against the Gamecocks.
Kentucky rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns and completed three consecutive touchdown drives in the second quarter.
Kentucky visits Texas A&M on October 6.