Cats fall to Iowa in ugly Music City Bowl clash

Published 3:12 pm Monday, January 2, 2023

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The Kentucky defense held its own but the offense could never get going as Iowa topped the Cats 21-0 on Saturday in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl.

Kentucky (7-6) started true freshman Destin Wade at quarterback in the game. The Nashville-area native went 16 of 30 for 98 yards and rushed 16 times for 29 yards. But his two interceptions would prove costly.

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The UK defense held Iowa to 206 yards of total offense. The Hawkeyes were 0 for 11 on third down and 0 for two on fourth down.

Kentucky had three receivers catch at least five passes. Dane Key caught six passes for 47 yards. Tayvion Robinson caught five for 27 yards, while Barion Brown caught five for 24 yards.

Kentucky got the ball first with true freshman Destin Wade at quarterback. After getting one first down, the Cats were forced to punt.

Iowa earned three first downs on its first possession but on fourth-and-two from the UK 33, Jordan Lovett broke up the Joey Labas pass, giving UK possession with 8:48 remaining in the first period.

Kentucky would get into Iowa territory on its second drive before being forced to punt. Iowa got a 34-yard return from Cooper DeJean and took over at its own 40 with 5:14 to play in the first. Iowa could do nothing with the possession and was forced to punt.

The Cats took over at their own one with 2:59 left in the first. The Cats went three-and-out and were forced to punt again, with Iowa taking over at the UK 46. The first quarter would end in a scoreless tie.

Kentucky’s defense stood tall again, forcing another Iowa punt. The Cats took over at their own seven yard line with 14:46 left in the first half.

The Cats would go three-and-out again, punting the ball back to the Hawkeyes with 13:02 to play in the half.

Iowa got on the board first on its next possession. The Hawkeyes needed just two plays to cover 42 yards, with the scoring play being a 15-yard touchdown pass from Labas to Luke Lachey. Drew Stevens added the PAT and Iowa led 7-0 with 12:08 left in the half.

On UK’s next possession, Wade was intercepted by Xavier Nwankpa, who returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. Stevens added the PAT and Iowa led 14-0 with 11:57 left in the half.

Kentucky punted again on its next possession, and Iowa did the same with its next possession.

Just before the half, Wade was intercepted by DeJean, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown. Stevens added the extra point and Iowa led 21-0. That would be the halftime score.

Iowa got the ball first in the second half but the Hawkeyes could do nothing with the possession and were forced to punt. It would be the first of five consecutive drives, two by each team, that ended in punts. At the end of the third period, Kentucky was driving in Iowa territory.

The fourth quarter would prove to be scoreless, with neither team seriously threatening.