LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- John Conner had two of Kentucky's six rushing TDs -- the first two of his career -- as the Wildcats' offense overcame their porous rushing defense to defeat Kent State 56-20 Saturday night.
Conner scored on Kentucky's opening drives of both halves, including a 16-yard scamper four minutes after halftime that gave the Wildcats (2-0) the lead for good. Coming into the game, Conner had only two other carries in his career.
Tony Dixon, Andre Woodson, Alfonso Smith and Derrick Locke each added TD runs, Locke's from 67 yards out on just his second career carry. Kentucky racked up 266 rushing yards, but Kent State did even better on the ground.
Coached by Kentucky alumnus Doug Martin, the Flashes diced the Wildcats' defense for 215 rushing yards in the first half -- including 124 from Eugene Jarvis and 79 from quarterback Julian Edelman. The Golden Flashes ran for 324 yards in the game.
Kentucky's Rafael Little didn't reach the end zone but had 13 carries for 102 yards, becoming the first Wildcats player -- and fourth in the Southeastern Conference -- with 2,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.
Kentucky, best known for quarterback Woodson and his skilled receiving corp, needed the running game to get through this one because of shaky pass protection and an even shakier defense.
Woodson completed 15 of 22 passes for 218 yards and two TDs, but he was sacked four times -- all in the first half. He didn't seem in sync until late in the third quarter when he fired a 51-yard TD to Keenan Burton to give Kentucky a three-touchdown cushion.
Before that, the Golden Flashes (1-1) gave Kentucky a scare with its option offense -- a scheme that also troubled the Wildcats last year against another Mid-American Conference foe, Central Michigan.
The two teams headed to halftime tied at 14 after time ran out before Kent State could try a go-ahead field goal, but things could have been much worse for the Wildcats early.
Kentucky forced Kent State to punt only once in the half, but turnovers stopped three other drives in their tracks. Among them was an interception by Calvin Harrison that halted a drive on the Kentucky 8-yard line.
The Golden Flashes used some trickery to get on the board first with a 6-yard fake field goal run by holder Leneric Muldrow.
Woodson answered less than two minutes later, finding receiver Steve Johnson, who dodged three would-be tacklers to score from 33 yards.
Despite an often ugly game for Kentucky's run defense, defensive end Jeremy Jarmon had a standout performance with a sack and two deflected passes.
The Wildcats host intrastate rival Louisville next week in a battle of two offenses that have combined for 237 points through their first two games.
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