LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Freddie Swain caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Luke Del Rio with 43 seconds remaining to cap No. 20 Florida's rally from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit that beat Kentucky 28-27 on Saturday night.
The Gators extended their winning streak over the Wildcats to 31 games, the nation's longest streak in FBS, and took early control of the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division. It came a week after a last-second, 63-yard Hail Mary TD pass earned a 26-20 victory over Tennessee, and this comeback required everything they had after trailing most of the night.
"Well, that was fun," Florida coach Jim McElwain said of his team's straight escape. "You could feel it on the sideline that they didn't have any quit in them."
Down 27-14 in the fourth quarter, Florida (2-1, 2-0) got within a touchdown on Brandon Powell's 6-yard TD run with 7:58 left. Del Rio then marched the Gators 58 yards for the winning score to stun a blue-clad sellout crowd of 61,000 hungry to see Kentucky end a generation of frustration against the Gators.
Kentucky's last chance to win ended when Austin MacGinnis' 57-yard field goal fell short as time expired.
Del Rio, who relieved Feleipe Franks in the second half, completed 9 of 14 passes for 74 yards.
Kadarius Toney rushed for a 36-yard TD and Tyrie Cleveland caught a 45-yard TD pass from Franks for a 14-all tie at halftime.
Florida: The Gators played catch-up all night and their perseverance once again paid off in the end thanks to Del Rio, who was the QB in last year's 45-7 rout of Kentucky in Gainesville. Del Rio threw an interception but had the resolve to lead a fourth-quarter rally and find receivers. They ended up outgaining the Wildcats 395-340 and dealt another painful loss to Kentucky.
Kentucky: In control most of the game and holding what they thought was a comfortable lead, the Wildcats couldn't close the deal again. With the loss went a chance to prove they could win a marquee game and reach a lofty status in the SEC.
Kentucky also wasted a three-touchdown performance from quarterback Stephen Johnson and field goals of 42 and 50 yards from Austin MacGinnis. A late penalty after the Wildcats neared field goal range left MacGinnis with a long attempt that fell in the end zone.
Florida could move up a spot with the road win.
Kentucky: The Wildcats received 11 votes last week but let a great chance to re-enter the Top 25 for the first time since November 2007 slip away.
Florida: Hosts Vanderbilt on Sept. 30.
Kentucky: Hosts Eastern Michigan on Sept. 30.