Kentucky could not overcome a spate of missed tackles and dropped balls as it fell to Ohio State on the road, 39-31.
The Wildcats took an early 7-0 lead as full back, Jacob Goeppner popped up on the right wing to accept a great offload from Dirk van den Berg and score in the corner. Undeterred the Buckeyes went down the opposite end of the field on a consistent basis and scored three tries without reply to hold a 17-7 lead with halftime on the horizon. Just before the klaxon sounded Goeppner again broke the Buckeyes line, this time to score under the posts. Brendon Esson tacked on the conversion to make the scoreline 17-14 at the break.
Ohio State opened the second half the stronger and looked to have the game in hand as they racked up three tries to extend the score to 36-14. To the Wildcats credit they rallied and mounted a comeback late in the game with a fine try by freshman, Johnny Leffel to make the game 36-19. Soon after that score Kentucky had crossed again as Goeppner completed his hat-trick and the lead had been shortened to just 10 points.
Ohio State felt the need to add a penalty with 5:31 left to play and stretch the lead out to 39-26. Kentucky continued to press and spread the ball around, making the Buckeyes work in defense and creating gaps to attack. Goeppner was heading for the line but was dragged down a couple of yards shy of the score. He had the presence of mind to release the ball and Ty Lewis was the man on hand to scoop and score. Kentucky received the ball from the kick off and just seconds later the klaxon sounded. The ball was passed from touchline to touchline as the Wildcats tried to find another score but it was not to be and the Buckeyes held on for the win.
Wildcats’ head coach, Gary Anderson had this to say about the defeat, “I hate to lose any game, but I think we accomplished what we were looking for. We played against an opponent with an equally expansive style of rugby. We were able to take note of a few weaknesses we need to address and get get some freshman some “A” side minutes that will allow us to adjust our lineup as we go into SCRC play.”
In the “B” game the Wildcats were too strong for Ohio State and came away with a fine 57-31 victory to go to 2-0 on the season. Tries were scored by Jaydon Elwood (3), Tobias Watkins (2), Kaiden Fothergill (2), Dailen Ward and Jimmy James. Fothergill added six conversions.
Kentucky will welcome Alabama to Lexington in the conference opener on Saturday, September 21 with kickoff slated for 1pm. The “B” game will follow.