Kentucky downs Ball State to open up the 2023 football season
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky beat Ball State 44-14 on Saturday, but the score does not tell the whole story.
In his Lexngton debut, transfer QB Devin Leary had a solid opening 44-yard connection to sophomore wide reciever Dane Key, but at times, Leary’s throws were missplaced as he connected on 18 for 31 passes.
“It kind of hit me though as we were running out. It’s been a little while since last October and going down,” Leary said after the win. “I wouldn’t say I was nervous. I felt really prepared coming into this game, but a couple of throws got away from me a little bit. It felt good to be at Kroger Field and to be playing in Blue.”
Leary added that he thought the offense didn’t fully execute on several plays, but senior running back Ray Davis had himself a day in hist first game sporting the blue and white. Davis went for 112 yards on only 14 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“I was excited,” Vanderbilt transfer Davis said. “All props go to my O-Line. I’m going to name all of those guys: [Kenneth] Horsey, Eli [Cox], Marques [Cox], Jager [Burton], [Jeremy] Flax, and Courtland [Ford]. The reason why I end up in the endzone is because of those five guys, and if I’m blessed to keep ending in the endzone, it is because of those five guys.”
Sophomore wide reciever Barion Brown also had a shining moment inside Kroger Field, flashing his speed for a 99-yard kick off return. Brown’s return all the way to paydirt replicated the 101-yard kick off return he had in UK’s season opener last year against Miami (OH).
“It felt great,” Brown said. “It’s a dream come true for any football player to score a touchdown on a kick return, and it’s a blessing. Being able to make it on the side where my parents and friends were sitting made it great.”
While there is a lot for UK to disect offensively, the Wildcat defense was their strongest performance of the day.
UK’s defense made life difficult for the Cardinals, forcing two fumbles and holding the Indiana team to just 295 total yards. On one of those fumbles, senior defensive back Jalen Geiger was there for the scoop to score a 69-yard TD off the fumble recovery.
“It means everything to me,” Geiger said on finding the endzone after suffering a season-ending knee injury at the beginning of last year. “It was a surreal moment, just being out there running. I mean really, just the whole nature of playing football again, it was just crazy. All that rehab I had to do to get back to this moment, it was just good for me to make that play.
The Wildcats’ efforts on both ends of the ball earned them their fifth home season-opener win a row. The Cats return to Kroger next Saturday versus EKU at 3:00 p.m.
Below is the UK box score:
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