Kentucky dominates Akron at home 35-3

WYMT Mountain News Weekend Edition newscast at 11 p.m. on Saturday
Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 10:37 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky defeated the Akron Zips 35-3 at Kroger Field Saturday.

The offense received to start the game and immediately resembled the improved squad Stoops had discussed all week before Saturday.

The Wildcats completed a seven-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. The drive was topped off with a 6-yard Devin Leary touchdown pass to Josh Kattus.

A UK three-and-out on the Cats’ second drive of the game led to a punt to Akron that was muffed and recovered by Zion Childress at Akron’s 37-yard line.

Early in the second quarter, UK’s Jordan Dingle made a great catch downfield, but the ball was popped out while he fought for extra yards. Akron recovered it in the end zone, giving the ball back to their offense.

Not too much later in the second, the Zips would inch their way down the field before UK’s Trevin Wallace got a third-down sack that would force Akron to settle for a field goal, which was missed.

A brutal snap by Kentucky’s Jager Burton went way over Devin Leary’s head before being recovered far back by the Wildcats.

Fortunately, a few plays later on third-and-goal from the 22-yard line with eight seconds left in the half, Kentucky wide receiver Tayvion Robinson makes an amazing back-shoulder grab for a touchdown.

This play led to Kentucky going into the halftime break leading, 14-0.

Late in the third quarter, the Akron Zips got their first points on the board with a 36-yard field goal.

Around the one minute mark, Devin Leary would avoid a blown-up play by dumping the ball off to Ray Davis who would turn the play into a 58-yard touchdown.

Davis would follow this up with another touchdown run for 55 yards, boosting UK’s lead 28-3.

Later in the fourth quarter, Leary would take a rough hit throwing a pass, but would get up and walk away on his own accord. Former Somerset Briar Jumper Kaiya Sharon would come in the game to take his place.

Around the three-minute mark in the fourth quarter, Sharon would hand the ball off to Demie Sumo-Karngbaye to pump the lead, 35-3.

Here is the final box score:

Akron vs. UK post-game stats
Akron vs. UK post-game stats(WYMT)

We will have highlights of the game on Saturday’s ARH Sports Overtime at 11:10 p.m.

Kentucky will begin SEC play next week on the road against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Sep. 23.

Kickoff is set for noon.

Here is UK football head coach Mark Stoops after the game verbatim:

MARK STOOPS: Good to get the 3-0. Really appreciate the way the defense played the entire night, really with some late yardage there. We had an opportunity to play a lot of guys, which was good to see.

Gave up yards at the end. But prior to that really played one of the more complete games we have played all year in a long time defensively, appreciate that effort.

The special teams are doing what they have to do, playing really hard. Offensively a lot of frustration again. It is a broken record, but you cannot have snaps, holds, you can’t fumble going in. And you have a chance to, you know, easily put up 42, 49 points pretty easy. And then really nobody would be as mad or as frustrated, I should say, on our end.

But there are things that really there are no excuses for. You have to get better. We’re going into the SEC play next week. The nice thing is, we are 3-0. And I like the work ethic and the way we have been practicing. We will continue to do so. We will get better, and, you know, I think the team will be eager to get back out to practice next week, and we have to get things cleaned up. We are not playing to our standard upfront on the offensive line, whether we are getting beat, whether it is snaps, holds, you know, just things of that nature. But there is enough blame to go around to all groups in all areas, so we will address it and continue to work to get better.

Q It looked like Devin was okay coming off the field?

MARK STOOPS: He could have went back, yeah. He got the win, yeah. He could have went back. And, so, yeah.

Q Does it surprise you, the snap, did you see that?

MARK STOOPS: We’ve had some snap issues that have concerned us, you know, and it is a lot. He is playing a new position and we are working through that. And, you know, but we can’t do that. We

overcame one of them, I believe, with the touchdown at the end of the


Q The offensive line, is there some sort of confidence?

MARK STOOPS: I really believe in, you know, our team. There is no question. We are going to work. We are going to grind. But we do have some expectations that we are not meeting right now at certain positions. There is no excuse for that.

Q Eli is playing well. Would you consider moving him back to center?

MARK STOOPS: Yeah, we would consider it. We could go either way.

Q The defense was a point of emphasis. You seemed to remedy that solution. What was different this week?

MARK STOOPS: I think, you know, we have worked at it, we worked hard. We knew the last couple of weeks we have done really good things defensively, but we were not good enough in that area. And, you know, we cleaned it up some today.

Q 12 was really flying around, a lot of tackles today. You don’t see that often from the quarterback. What did you see?

MARK STOOPS: Yeah, I think, you know, they were throwing some hitches out there. We were giving them some opportunities. But he was moving around pretty good. I have to watch the tape and see.

Q Coach, Barion Brown and Dane Key both didn’t catch a pass today. What do you have to get them going?

MARK STOOPS: Yeah, we have to. You name it, it starts with,

you know, getting an accurate pass, it starts with protection, which we had protection issues. Once again, I think we had some opportunities that we missed with throws. I’m sure there will be some details, you know, in the routes that they can improve on.

Again, it is all of us. All of us need to play together for it to function. And there is some frustration there with the offense in general because, you know, you are just not hitting it on all cylinders right now.

Q Ray’s situation at Vandy, maybe get overlooked a little bit. Is he getting better than a lot of people thought he was coming in?

MARK STOOPS: I mean, I am not going to say that. I sat there and said he was a pretty good player, you know. I like him. So he is good. He’s playing well. And, you know, that was a heck of a play by Devin and by him on a broken play. And sometimes you have to do that. And it certainly happens against us sometimes, you know.

Plays get off schedule, you have to create and have some guys that

just have some instincts, and they made a great play on that.

Q Coach, preseason, plays like that, Leary keeping it all alive, how important is it when you are trying to work these things out?

MARK STOOPS: It is very important. Even in that moment we certainly needed it. And just to get the offense going, get them some confidence and for him to just get out there and play ball. Again, he was hurt early, early in the season last year. He is going to get better with reps. There were things he did well today and things we just missed.

Q Mark, I know you had big plays on offense, but still you only ran

49 of them. What else do you see going on with that?

MARK STOOPS: Yeah, at half I want to say, you know, we didn’t run very many in the second half, it doesn’t feel like to me. I’m sure it is that way. Part of it, late in the game when we are playing a lot of guys we are letting them drive a little bit, you know, defensively. But offensively, you know, there are no excuses. We are giving up sacks, turnover, not converting on third downs, not getting enough plays. We have to be more efficient and that is the bottom line. You will keep drives alive if you don’t. We get the explosive play and, you know, get it down to the 10 and get a fumble, you know, just stuff like that, not good.

Q Ray, early on, just really a pace to play, and then is that something that is emotion a lot or does he stumble first?

MARK STOOPS: He has to continue to grind it out like all of our guys. We’ve talked about it all week. You know, none of us are as good as we are when we have all of us playing, you know, when we are all playing good. And, you know, that is every position. And we will get some touches to other guys if we all play good and get the protections, the runs, the plays. And ultimately when he had his opportunities he made some really nice plays and that was good to see in the run and the pass game.

Q We saw the tight-ends in the red zone a couple of years ago. Was that a key tonight, the production with (Josh) Kattus? Is that something that could get the offense going?

MARK STOOPS: I think, again, all of us, you know, we put it all together and there could be a lot of good things. I think, you know, we can be very efficient in the red zone. We were the last time he was here. I think there are a lot of things that we could do, that is a part of it.

Q What is the message you gave to Jordan Dingle after the play where he fumbles it?

MARK STOOPS: I mean, I told him it was one heck of a catch. We have to be smart when you are dragging guys, you have to tuck it. I couldn’t tell if he had the opportunity after a one-handed catch to tuck it and put it away. Certainly as you are spinning. I don’t like to see our guys with their backs to defenders.

Q Devin went back pretty quickly.

MARK STOOPS: We are not going to turn away from that. It was a remarkable catch, and Ron has got to tuck the ball away