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Kentucky 27, Florida 16: Wildcats snap streak by sapping Gators’ will

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The Gators have little left to defend — which is good, because defending is not their thing right now.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators came into Saturday night riding high and looking for a 32nd straight win over the Kentucky Wildcats.

Next year, they’ll look for their first straight win.

Kentucky ran over the Gators all night and got breaks at the right moments, ultimately holding on for a 27-16 win over Florida that snapped the nation’s longest current winning streak by one college football program over another.

Kentucky’s running game racked up 303 yards on 41 carries, with Benny Snell doing the majority of the damage — 175 yards on 27 carries — and the Wildcats controlled the game throughout, despite a second quarter that saw Florida take the lead and preserve it via two forced turnovers. Florida missed tackle after tackle on Snell and mercurial quarterback Terry Wilson (151 passing yards, 105 rushing yards, three touchdowns and two turnovers), and allowed Kentucky to convert nine of 13 third downs.

And Florida, despite converting seven of its own 13 third downs and gaining 360 yards of its own, failed to execute when it needed points most. A drive early in the second quarter that got within three yards of six points yielded just a field goal, a field goal by Evan McPherson that appeared to slide just inside the right goal post late in the third quarter was controversially ruled no good by an official, and Feleipe Franks, who misfired often, failed to see an open Malik Davis on a crucial two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

And then, on the final play of the game, Florida’s porous offensive line got Franks harassed one last time — and he fumbled while attempting to throw, leading to a bizarre touchdown that took almost half a minute of real time to transpire, and came after the scoring player almost throwing the ball to a ref.

The Gators of yesteryear built a formidable record of success against Kentucky over the last three decades, winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning in meetings with the Wildcats.

This year’s Gators lost to them.

And now, a long fall looms before them.