August 31, 2019 / 7:51 PM / 23 days ago

Kentucky pulls away to defeat Toledo in opener

Kentucky, coming off its first 10-win season in 41 years, kept the momentum rolling into 2019 with a 38-24 victory over Toledo in the season opener in Lexington, Ky.

Aug 31, 2019; Lexington, KY, USA; Toledo Rockets running back Bryant Koback (22) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats put the game away by outscoring Toledo 24-10 in the second half, breaking a 14-14 halftime tie and overcoming an early 7-0 deficit.

Big plays led the second-half charge as Kentucky scored on a 32-yard pass from junior quarterback Terry Wilson to redshirt freshman Bryce Oliver and on a 40-yard run by redshirt freshman Kavosiey Smoke. Wide receiver Josh Ali added a 2-yard pass reception to round out the scoring.

The Wildcats piled up 422 total yards in offense, 254 coming after intermission. They had 246 passing yards and 176 rushing.

Wilson was 19-of-26 passing with two touchdowns. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. had six catches for 77 yards.

Kentucky is trying to replace all-time leading rusher Benny Snell, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. For now, the Wildcats are using a three-tier attack. Smoke topped the run game with 78 yards on seven carries. Asim Rose added 64 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts, and Chris Rodriguez Jr. had 34 yards on five carries.

Toledo, which returns 13 starters and is the preseason pick to win the MAC Western Division, had 347 totals yards, but only 116 after halftime.

Running back Bryant Koback, a transfer from Kentucky, and quarterback Mitchell Guadagni ran for 73 yards apiece. Guadagni was 7-of-12 for 122 yards passing before exiting with an injury. Backup Carter Bradley was 4-of-13 for 44 yards.

Toledo dominated the first half with 231 offensive yards to 168 for Kentucky, but the two teams battled to a 14-14 halftime tie.

Koback and Guadagni scored on runs of 5 and 21 yards, respectively. Kentucky’s touchdowns came on a fumble recovery in the end zone by tight end Justin Rigg and an 11-yard run by Rose.

—Field Level Media

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