LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky wrote another chapter in its Book of Heartbreak on Saturday night.
The Wildcats can make Stephen King novels look like children’s books.
This one stung, just like all the others.
Starring in a recurring role of protagonist was the Florida Gators, who woke up behind a backup quarterback to pull the rug out from under the Wildcats one more time.
What once looked like certain rush-the-field jubilation turned into a mumbling-under-your-breath exit out of the stadium.
Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium) seems to be a familiar scene for these nightmarish football tales unfortunately is the price of being one of those long-suffering UK football fans.
They will talk about this one for years and how Kentucky let one slip away. It hopefully won’t ruin what can still be a good season and building block for the program but it sure fits well on the book shelve in the Book of Heartbreak which we thought was closed after last season.
Kentucky fans wear these losses up and down their sleeves. They are tattooed on the heart.
When the ESPN cameras zoomed in on Kentucky kicker Chance Poore moments before the redshirt freshman was about to go on the field for a potential go-ahead field goal, he looked like he was about to puke.
When he came off the field after missing a very makeable field goal with less than a minute remaining, everybody in the stadium looked like they were going to puke.
But don’t blame this Poore finish on the kicker alone. Kentucky failed to convert on a couple of fourth-and-shorts despite a dominating performance from the offensive line. How does that happen? A miscommunication between quarterback Sawyer Smith and Lynn Bowden on a deep throw in the fourth quarter resulted in a Florida interception. The timing was so Kentucky.
The coaches became conservatively, as they do in these situations. (Kentucky was ahead 21-10 when it seemed like they took their football of the pedal).
The storyline was familiar even to the point of Florida’s quarterback Feliepe Franks being bent in half on a sack and knocked out of the game. So the backup quarterback enters the game and does a Tom Brady impersonation by driving the Gators to a touchdown with five consecutive completions.
Please, can we at least have something new happen?
After Kentucky fell behind 22-21, the put together a masterful drive but seemed to settle for field position that would give Poore a chance to make a game-winning kick instead of pushing ahead for the touchdown.
Poore’s kick was inches away from going between the uprights. Game over. The Gators tacked on another meaningless touchdown to drive the stake in Kentucky’s heart.
The officials shared in the latest heartbreak with a rash of targeting calls (while correct seem very costly) that not only cost Kentucky yards on the field but player so the field. Depth is not something Kentucky has much of in the secondary, and it showed.
But what was targeted the most was the heart of Kentucky’s fans. Again.
The Book of Heartbreak seems to be the never-ending tale of UK football.
MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today and a former sportswriter who followed UK sports for The Daily Independent in Ashland.