No. 22 Florida Gators Suffer Defeat to Kentucky 33-14, Wildcats’ RB Ray Davis Rushes for 280 Yards
By Space Coast Daily // September 30, 2023
RB Ray Davis carries 26 times for 280 yards
ABOVE VIDEO: Check out these highlights from the Kentucky Wildcats’ 33-14 win over the Florida Gators in Week 5 of the college football season with a dominant performance from RB Ray Davis who rushed for 280 YDS.
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – No. 22 Florida Gators suffered a road loss on Saturday after falling to the Kentucky Wildcats 33-14 in Lexington.
Wildcats senior tailback Ray Davis carried 26 times for 280 yards — the second-most ever by a Florida opponent — and scored four touchdowns, as unbeaten and host Kentucky did a wire-to-wire domination of the 22nd-ranked Gators in their Southeastern Conference game Saturday at sold-out Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. Davis, the transfer from Vanderbilt who shredded the Gators for 122 yards in the Commodores’ upset win last November in Nashville, Tenn., was more than twice as lethal this time. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry and became just the seventh player to rush for at least 200 yards against UF — he eclipsed that milestone before halftime — and did so to a defense that came into the game ranked No. 2 against the run in the SEC allowing just 81 yards per game.
The 5-foot-10, 206-pounder actually had 206 yards at intermission, including a 76-yard scoring run that helped the Wildcats pounce to a 23-0 lead less than halfway through the second quarter.
The Cats were never challenged thereafter and coasted to a third straight win in the series (their fourth in the last six game) for the first time since winning four in a row from 1948-51 when Paul “Bear” Bryant roamed the UK sidelines.
Coach Billy Napier went into the game looking for his team to start fast in a huge road game, but the Gators could not have started any slower.
The first Florida drive had a sack and holding penalty, while the Wildcats took the ensuing punt and went 81 yards in 12 plays, though managed just a 24-yard field goal from Alex Raynor. UF started the next series with UF quarterback Graham Mertz overthrowing a wide open Caleb Douglas 50 yards downfield. Two plays later, linebacker Trevin Wallace returned a tipped-ball interception 21 yards to the Florida 15, with Davis scoring on a 9-yard swing pass and pile-driving a handful of UF defenders into the end zone to make it 10-0 at 5:37 of the first quarter. The next change of possessions basically set the game’s tone. The Gators drove into UK territory, but another sack forced a punt that backed the Cats up deep in their territory.
The Florida defense managed to get off the field for the first time, forcing UK three-and-out and punt from its end zone, but the Gators’ special-teams unit was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct (trying to leap over the punt-protection backfield), which gave Kentucky a first down. On the very next play, Davis busted through the line for a back-breaking, 75-yard touchdown and 16-0 lead. Davis’s third touchdown of the first half, on a 3-yard scoring run, made it 23-0 with just under nine minutes to go. UF finally got on the board when Mertz threw a 4-yard scoring pass to tight end Hayden Hansen with 34 seconds left in the first half. That made it 23-7, which was still the largest halftime lead by a Kentucky team over a ranked opponent at the break in 20 years. Davis’s fourth touchdown was a 1-yard run to start the third quarter and pushed UK to a 30-7 edge. A 33-yard touchdown strike from Mertz to wideout Ricky Pearsall made it 30-14, but the Gators’ offense could muster nothing the rest of the way (a punt and two failed fourth downs), with a 50-yard field goal by Raynor midway through the fourth quarter capping the scoring.
Kentucky finished with 398 yards of offense, with only 39 through the air. Mertz completed 25 of 30 passes for 244 yards, the two scores and one pick to go with three sacks, while the UF running game completely stifled (26 carries, 69 yards) by UK’s league-leading defense.
The Gators also killed themselves with 10 penalties for 85 yards.
Florida Gators contributed to this report.