No. 20 Kentucky handles Richardson, topples No. 12 Florida

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 20 Kentucky intercepted Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson twice, including one Keidron Smith returned 65 yards for a touchdown, and the Wildcats toppled 12th-ranked Florida 26-16 on Saturday in the Swamp to notch consecutive wins in the series for the first time in 45 years.

Richardson was off all night, a stark contrast from last week’s three-touchdown, turnover-free performance against then-No. 7 Utah. He had two throws in this one that were complete head-scratchers, and the Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) made him pay dearly.

Linebacker Jordan Wright, cleared to play Thursday after sitting out the opener, made a one-handed catch on Richardson’s pass to the flat late in the second quarter. Will Levis scored three plays later.

Richardson’s second pick was more egregious. He seemingly misread a defensive alignment and threw a pass to the wide side of the field that Smith easily picked off. Smith returned it down the sideline and had to juke only Richardson to make it to the end zone.

It was the third of three big plays that gave Kentucky back-to-back wins over Florida (1-1, 0-1) for the first time since 1976-77.

Levis connected with Dane Key for a 55-yard score in the first half, a throw that showed why Levis is projected to be a first-round draft pick in 2023.

Twenty-two scouts from 15 NFL teams were on hand for the game. Most of them probably were there to see Richardson. None of them could have been impressed with what the third-year sophomore did in his third career start.

The Gainesville native completed 14 of 35 passes for 143 yards. He also ran six times for 4 yards. Kentucky stacked the line of scrimmage and forced Richardson to be a pocket passer, clearly understanding that the Gators have few difference-makers outside of their quarterback who looked like a budding star seven days earlier.

Levis was considerably better. He completed 13 of 24 passes for 202 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The pick was a great play by Florida defenders Brenton Cox and Gervon Dexter. Cox pressured Levis and deflected the pass, and Dexter made a diving catch.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kentucky: The Wildcats are far from soft. SEC Network analyst Roman Harper called the Cats “a little bit softer” than Florida on the Paul Finebaum Show earlier this week, and Kentucky players vowed to use it as motivation. Kentucky was dominant in the second half, outscoring the Gators 13-0 after intermission.

Florida: The Gators spent the last week getting patted on the back after beating Utah and may have been ripe for a letdown. Regardless, the Wildcats exposed weaknesses and showed Florida still has a long ways to go under first-year coach Billy Napier if it wants to catch up in the SEC East.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

With No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 8 Notre Dame losing at home earlier Saturday, Florida had a chance to move into the top 10 in the next AP college football poll. Instead, the Gators are sure to fall behind Kentucky.

MILESTONE VICTORY

The victory moved coach Mark Stoops past Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most wins (61) in Kentucky’s football history.

KEY INJURIES

Kentucky free safety Jalen Geiger was carted off the field in the second quarter with what appeared to be a serious leg injury. Team trainers placed an air cast on his left leg before helping him onto the cart and driving him off the field.

Florida right tackle Michael Tarquin injured his right ankle in the second and limped to the sideline. Austin Barber replaced him.

UP NEXT

Kentucky: Hosts Youngstown State of the Football Championship Subdivision next Saturday. Stoops was born in Youngstown, Ohio.

Florida: Hosts South Florida next Saturday, the Gators’ third home game in as many weeks. Florida is 2-0 in the in-state series, winning in 2010 and 2021.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

west virginia football
Lee Coleman/Getty Images
0 Comments

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.