LEXINGTON, Ky. – A.J. Rose rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns as the Blue (offense) beat the White (defense) 45-32 in Kentucky football team’s annual Blue-White Game, presented by Kroger, on Friday night, April 13 at Kroger Field.
Rose, who carried 15 times for 37 yards during his redshirt freshman season in 2017, had five carries of 10 yards or more and scored three of the game’s five touchdowns. Quarterbacks Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson (pictured, No. 3) each spent time with the first-team offense, producing similar results. Hoak was 14-of-25 through the air for 121 yards and a touchdown, while Wilson connected on 10 of his 24 passes for 131 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception. Danny Clark and Walker Wood saw time behind center in the second half. Clark hit on eight of his 13 passes for 77 yards, while Wood connected on three of his four attempts for 37 yards and a touchdown. Benny Snell (pictured, No. 26) rushed six times for 33 yards in the game, while Zach Johnson rushed for 24 yards on seven carries. Lynn Bowden, Jr., caught a game-high seven passes for 42 yards, while Zy’Aire Hughes caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Kash Daniel registered a game-high eight tackles and added a forced fumble. Deandre Square had six tackles in the game, while Kengera Daniel and Calvin Taylor each had 1.5 sacks.
"We had a pretty good and physical spring and came out of there relatively healthy," said UK coach Mark Stoops. "That's always a good thing. I felt like we got better." The Kentucky defense controlled the contest early, forcing the offense to punt on each of its first three possessions.
On the fourth drive of the game, the offense mounted its first significant drive, earning a pair of first downs and advancing into White territory. A 34-yard rush by Rose, followed by a three-yard rushing touchdown from Rose, gave the Blue team its first points of the game. After two more punts, the offense found itself in tough field position, at its own five yard line. The offense was able to get three first downs, moving into White territory before Wilson was picked off by Mike Edwards to end the drive at the White 34 yard line. The offense punted on the subsequent possession, but was able to move the ball with its next set of downs. In fact, the Blue team marched 66 yards in six plays, capped by Rose’s second rushing touchdown of the game, this one from 27 yards out, with 5:36 left in the first half.
Before the end of the half, the offense took advantage of good field position and scoring on a 43-yard field goal from Miles Butler to lead 22-17 at the break. On the first drive of the second half, the offense covered 65 yards in 11 plays, capped by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Hoak to Josh Ali, giving the offense a 29-18 lead. The next drive produced almost identical results, as the Cats once again used 11 plays to cover 65 yards. This time, the drive ended with a two-yard rushing touchdown from Rose, giving the Blue team a 36-21 advantage with 2:59 left in the game. In the fourth quarter, Wood hit Hughes with an 18-yard scoring pass, providing the final margin of victory.
Stoops added. "The guys really worked hard. I challenged them, as I said the other day. We got back from spring break, we had a couple practices before spring break out back, after spring break and challenged them for a solid month. They've been in here every day early, working hard on the off days, lifting, watching film. Practice days, they've been attentive. Like I said, they're over here early in the morning during the school year and doing their work. If we continue with that attitude, then I like where we're headed. "So overall, spring was a success. We've got to finish strong academically and hit that weight room. We can't give them very much time off. They've got to get back in there, get stronger, get bigger, and get ready for the next phase this summer to continue to progress. "You know, as far as the game went, you could tell we have some options there at quarterback, and we need all the reps we can get. Just with the continuity of the offense, some of the younger wide receivers, it's nice to see some guys emerge. I thought we did a decent job of catching and getting some yards. Put one on the ground that was a little disappointing. "But especially the second half, I felt like we found our rhythm and threw the ball around a little better. Overall good day. I'm always a little bit torn. It's hard for a head coach because if one side is doing good, you're disappointed in the other."
The Kroger Blue-White Spring Game marks the end of spring practice for the Wildcats, who will open the 2018 regular season at home, facing Central Michigan on September 1 at Kroger Field.
UK Athletics Photos by Britney Howard and Chet White