Final Score: UK 44, Ball State 14
In their season opener, the University of Kentucky delivered a dominating performance against Ball State. UK’s defense and special teams stood out, stifling the Cardinals in nearly every aspect of the game. The highlight of the match was the Wildcats’ 60+ yard scoop-and-score on defense by defensive back Jalen Geiger. The team also had a second fumble recovery, which nearly resulted in another touchdown for UK. The game remained competitive heading into halftime.
Photo Cred: The Advocate-Messenger
Even though Kentucky hit a field goal as time expired to go up 23-7 at the half, the team undoubtedly left even more points on the board in the first two quarters. Fortunately, newcomer kicker Alex Raynor appears to be a promising addition for the Wildcats. He successfully converted all three of his field goal attempts and extra points during the game, bringing much-needed stability to a position that has troubled Wildcats fans in previous years.
Now, it’s time to look at some of the key Wildcats from the game.
Quarterback Devin Leary
Making his debut for the Blue and White, QB Devin Leary put in a solid performance. He faces the challenge of filling the shoes of Will Levis, who was recently selected 33rd overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. While Leary’s performance did not scream “star,” he gradually settled into the Kentucky offense and exhibited significant improvement in the second half. He displayed poise in the pocket and an ability to extend plays. Next week’s matchup against EKU will provide a better gauge of whether Leary can fulfill the expectations placed on him coming into the year.
Photo Cred: WUKY
Running Back Re’Mahn Davis
Re’Mahn Davis emerged as the standout player for the Wildcats. He rushed for 112 yards and scored two touchdowns on just 14 carries. Davis’ impressive performance has earned him the prospect of a heavier workload in future games, particularly given his average of eight yards per carry against Ball State. The young RB consistently displayed electrifying plays, with a highlight being his 30-yard run in the fourth quarter that effectively sealed the game’s outcome.
Photo Cred: The Harrodsburg Herald
KR Barion Brown shone as a star performer for UK. His 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was a thrilling highlight and energized the crowd at Kroger Field. As previously mentioned, Alex Raynor delivered a commendable performance as the team’s kicker. Their combined efforts made special teams the leading source of points for the Wildcats in week one.
Photo Cred: BVM Sports (Brown) Photo Cred: KY Insider (Raynor)
Following their strong week one performance, the Cats will host their in-state rivals, Eastern Kentucky University. Kentucky is expected to be the favored team once again as they enter their second game. It will be an opportunity to determine if their impressive showing in week one carries over against a more formidable opponent. College football is back in full swing, and Wildcat fans have much to anticipate this season!
Photo Cred: UK Athletics