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Kentucky escapes scare, comes back to beat Eastern Kentucky in OT

It wasn't pretty, as Patrick Towles and Kentucky had to go to overtime to defeat FCS Eastern Kentucky. AP Photo/David Stephenson

One week after Kentucky notched its biggest win of the Mark Stoops era -- a 21-13 win over Missouri -- the Wildcats picked up arguably their ugliest win in some time with a 34-27 win over visiting Eastern Kentucky in overtime. The FCS squad from the Ohio Valley Conference forced three turnovers and even held a two-touchdown advantage in the fourth quarter before Kentucky was able to close the gap in the final minute and force overtime.

How the game was won: Quarterback Patrick Towles threw a quick bubble screen to Dorian Baker on Kentucky’s first possession of overtime and Baker muscled through a pair of Colonels defenders from 3 yards out to give the Wildcats a 34-27 lead. Facing a fourth-and-12 at the Kentucky 13, EKU was unable to convert what was supposed to be a trick play. Instead, Cory Johnson recorded a sack to lock up the win for Kentucky.

What the win means for the Wildcats: Despite the erratic play, it’s a win, first and foremost, and Kentucky is off to a 4-1 start for a second straight season. As expected, running back Stanley Williams didn’t play after missing practice last week for “personal reasons.” And he was missed (see below). Towles -- sensational against Missouri, awful against Florida -- continued his Jekyll-and-Hyde ways after completing 29 of 42 passes for 329 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Wildcats avoid becoming the first SEC team to lose to an FCS squad since Georgia Southern beat Florida, 26-20, in 2013. They did, however, win their first overtime game since 2007, when they beat LSU.

What the loss means for the Colonels: Playing with heavy hearts following the death of teammate Joey Kraemer, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman who was killed in a car accident last Sunday, the Colonels played inspired defense before taking a two-touchdown lead late into the fourth quarter. It has to be disheartening to come that close to knocking off an FBS team. It would have been their second straight season to topple one after beating Miami (Ohio) last season. Don’t think this loss will hurt their perception too much, though. They entered the week ranked 21st in the FCS coaches poll and probably won’t take too much of a hit.

Play of the game: Trailing 27-20, Kentucky faced a fourth-and-3 from the EKU 5-yard line with 57 seconds left. Towles threw up a 50-50 fade to Baker in the corner of the end zone, and Baker came down with the ball to tie it at 27-27 with :52 seconds left and force overtime.

Stat of the game: The absence of Williams was very noticeable offensively. Kentucky managed just 55 yards on the ground and had just 19 through the first three quarters. Notable, however, was that the Wildcats were 3 of 3 in the red zone and have converted their last 26 tries dating back to last season.