Tyrell Ajian returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter as Kentucky staved off an upset attempt and registered a 28-23 victory over Chattanooga in a nonconference game Saturday at Lexington, Ky.
Will Levis passed for 246 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Wildcats (3-0). Wan'Dale Robinson had eight receptions for 111 yards, Isaiah Epps and Izayah Cummings caught scoring passes and Josh Ali tacked on a touchdown run for Kentucky.
Ailym Ford rushed for 128 yards on 21 carries and Reginald Harrison had nine receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown for the Mocs, the 22nd-ranked FCS program. Chattanooga lost its 55th consecutive game to SEC teams since beating Tennessee in 1958.
Cole Copeland completed 21 of 35 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while rushing for a score for the Mocs (1-2). Aaron Sears kicked three field goals.
Chattanooga trailed by five and was stationed at the Wildcats' 35-yard line when Copeland threw into double coverage. Ajian made the interception at the 5 and navigated toward the left and sprinted down the sideline to give Kentucky a 28-16 lead with 7:40 left.
The Mocs charged back with a 14-play, 75-yard drive and Copeland scored on a 2-yard keeper to make it a five-point margin with 1:20 to play.
Ali recovered the ensuing onside kick and Kentucky ran out the clock for its 13th straight nonconference victory.
Kentucky outgained Chattanooga 348-339 while committing three turnovers. The Mocs' only miscue was the costly interception.
Sears booted a 43-yard field goal with 10:43 left in the third quarter as Chattanooga pulled within 14-13.
Rashun Freeman intercepted Levis late in the third quarter at the Mocs' 34-yard line. Chattanooga drove 53 yards on seven plays to set up Sears' 30-yard field goal that gave the Mocs a 16-14 edge with 13:27 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats answered with a swift seven-play, 77-yard drive. Levis, who completed 23 of 35 passes, concluded it with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Cummings to give Kentucky a five-point lead with 10:18 left.
Kentucky opened the contest with Ali's 11-yard scoring scamper on the fly sweep. The Mocs answered with Copeland's 12-yard scoring pass to Harrison with 6:46 left in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats moved back ahead when Levis threw a 20-yard touchdown to Epps to make it 14-7.
--Field Level Media