Special teams help Kentucky eke past Eastern Michigan
Kentucky took advantage of two special teams mishaps by Eastern Michigan in the second half to beat the Eagles 24-20 in a non-conference game in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday.
The Wildcats (4-1) took a 17-14 lead with 6:17 left in the third quarter on Austin MacGinnis’ 39-yard field goal after Tristan Yeomans recovered a muffed punt return by Eastern Michigan’s Eddie Daugherty at the Eagles’ 42-yard line.
Kentucky’s Joshua Paschal blocked an Eastern Michigan punt with 13:43 left in the game, and he recovered at the Eagles’ 12-yard line.
Kentucky running back Benny Snell, who finished with 75 yards on 21 carries, scored on the next play to increase the Wildcats’ lead to 24-14 with 11:56 left.
Eastern Michigan (2-2) cut the lead to 24-20 on a 2-yard run by Ian Eriksen with 2:34 remaining, but kicker Paul Fricano missed the extra-point try.
The Eagles had one last chance after starting a possession at their 12 with 44 seconds remaining following a Kentucky punt.
Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback converted on fourth-and-10 by completing a 13-yard pass to Sergio Bailey, who had eight catches for 80 yards, to the Eagles’ 25. The Eagles managed to get to the Kentucky 47 after two more completions, but a last-second Hail Mary pass attempt fell incomplete.
Roback completed 26 of 43 passes for 256 yards.
Eastern Michigan finished with only 13 yards rushing on 27 carries, but Kentucky did not do much better with 53 yards on 37 carries.
Garrett Johnson led Kentucky with eight receptions for 61 yards.
The Eagles remained close throughout most of the game, tying Kentucky at 14 going into halftime. The Eagles capped the scoring in the first half with a flea-flicker receiver pass from Jaron Johnson to John Niupalau for a 43-yard touchdown.
Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson was 18 of 27 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception.
Kentucky receiver Charles Walker was a victim of a targeting call on safety Juan Giraldo in the first quarter and did not return because of a back injury.