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October 13, 2012FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The game was over. It was just a matter of time until the Kentucky players knew it for sure. The UK players and coaches walked off the field at Razorback Stadium at 9:26 p.m.
Forty-two minutes later, the Southeastern Conference announced their nightmare was finished. The game was called with 5:08 left to play in the third quarter, with more than 20 minutes of game time left on the clock. Arkansas vaporized the UK defense while stomping out the offense in a 49-7 bludgeoning.
"I told the team at half, we're all responsible for what we see," Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. "It starts with me. I'm responsible for it. The players, the coaches, we're responsible for it."
The Razorbacks (3-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) thoroughly dominated the Wildcats (1-6, 0-4 SEC) in every aspect of the game. Arkansas scored touchdowns on its first six possessions to take a 42-0 lead at halftime. The Razorbacks had 533 total yards of offense despite pulling their starters earlier in the third quarter. The only yardage total Kentucky had that rivaled that was their punting yardage - 387 yards on the night.
"This is one of the most embarrassing games that we've been a part of," senior center Matt Smith said.
The weather delay that ended the night was the second time the teams had been forced to the locker rooms.
The game was suspended for the first time at 6:39 local time with 3:32 left in the first quarter after lightning was sighted near the stadium. Play resumed 66 minutes later, but the break didn't slow Arkansas down. They polished off an 86-yard drive to go up 21-0. Arkansas scored on a 77-yard touchdown pass on the first play of its next drive to go up by four scores.
"I was hoping we could continue to play, because we've got a lot of young guys that were playing out there," Phillips said. "We wanted to continue to get those guys snaps."
Neither Jalen Whitlow or Morgan Newton could move the UK offense. The true freshman, making his second career start, completed just 2-10 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. He hit senior receiver La'Rod King for a meaningless 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter that served only to prevent a second shutout this season.
Newton, who practiced sparingly this week, relieved Whitlow on two drives without finding much success. He completed 2-5 passes for 21 yards.
Meanwhile, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson used the UK defense for target practice. He finished 23-31 on the night for 372 yards and five touchdowns, tying a school record. The UK secondary, decimated by injuries, started three true freshmen and five of its top six players were true freshmen.
"We allowed runs, we allowed trick plays, we allowed reverses," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "They beat us in man, they beat us on wheel routes. If you go back and look at it, there probably aren't going to be that many games that the safeties or those young corners were that involved in that hurt us."
The loss means the Wildcats would have to win their final five games to become bowl-eligible, an unthinkable scenario following Saturday's beatdown.
Phillips said it was one of the toughest losses he's endured as a coach. The battered Wildcats have one week to recollect themselves after their largest loss of the season before facing No. 14 Georgia, coming to Lexington following a bye week.
"I'll pick myself up," Phillips said. "I'm a big boy. My job as the leader is to pick everybody else up."
Senior cornerback Cartier Rice suffered a hip flexor in the game. He missed time earlier this season with the same injury. His status for next week is unknown
Freshman cornerback Fred Tiller sustained a shin bruise, but X-rays were negative. His status for next week is unknown.
If both Rice and Tiller are unable to play, Kentucky could enter next week with just two available cornerbacks. Freshman Cody Quinn and freshman walk-on J.D. Harmon both played on Saturday.
--Kentucky trailed 28-0 at the end of the first quarter, giving up 307 yards while gaining only 48 yards of their own. The Wildcats have not scored an offensive touchdown for 20 consecutive games, dating back to Nov. 27, 2010 at Tennessee. Kentucky is 6-14 in those games.
--The official statement from SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom on the decision to end the game early is as follows:
"Given the extended weather forecast and out of concern for the health and safety for both teams and fans, the Commissioner, after consultation with both institutions, has terminated the game. For official purposes, the game will conclude with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter with Arkansas winning, 49-7."