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Kentucky blows out Miami (Ohio) 41-7

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP)

Kentucky hadn't used sirens to signify touchdowns since Hal Mumme left 13 years ago, but Saturday proved they're still in working order after quarterback Maxwell Smith provided many opportunities to use them against Miami (Ohio).

Smith threw three long touchdown passes and Jalen Whitlow and Raymond Sanders each added scoring runs as Kentucky beat Miami (Ohio) 41-7.

The Wildcats gave rookie coach Mark Stoops his first career victory and made a winner of Smith, who started for the first time since a season-ending ankle injury last September.

''It feels great,'' said Stoops, adding that he choked up when senior middle linebacker Avery Williamson handed him a game ball in the locker room. ''I was so involved in the game, doing everything you have to do to win, prepare, making sure you're taking care of everything. ... We appreciate winning today.''

Most importantly for the Wildcats (1-1) was how Smith helped execute offensive coordinator Neal Brown's pass-oriented ''Air Raid'' philosophy with TD passes of 48 yards to Jonathan George, 88 to Javess Blue and 56 to Jeff Badet. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 310 yards, 210 by halftime, as Kentucky outgained Miami 675-122 and allowed the RedHawks' only score on a fumbled punt return.

Kentucky's yardage total was the third highest in school history.

''We just needed to come out and do what we knew we could do, and we did that,'' Smith said. ''We just kept talking about our motto this week, which was just `next play.' It didn't matter what we do, whether it was an 80-yard touchdown, kick return, fumble, interception, it was just next play after next play to put things together.''

The Wildcats' motto definitely applied to Smith and Whitlow, who alternated in the first half as often as play to play. Kentucky's combination worked as they combined for 413 yards passing with Whitlow scoring the first TD on a 9-yard run.

Sanders added a 5-yard score. Joe Mansour added two field goals.

Kentucky won before 54,846, delighted by the Wildcats' offensive excitement.

There certainly was room for improvement after last week's 35-26 loss to Western Kentucky, especially after a defense that was expected to be Kentucky's strength allowed 487 yards. Personnel changes followed this week and the Wildcats rebounded by keeping the RedHawks out of the end zone and limiting them to just eight first downs.

Kentucky's performance came after another pregame adjustment by Stoops, who noticed Miami running the double-slot option instead of read options from the shotgun. Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot had seen it before at Florida State, and the Wildcats successfully carried out the changes.

''He (Stoops) came in before the game and told us what to do and where to fit, and we had to just go out and just play,'' defensive end Alvin Dupree said.

Miami's only highlight came on special teams when Chris Wade returned Daryl Collins' fumbled punt from 6 yards after being stripped by Collin Boucher. That brought the RedHawks within 17-7 but only proved to be a minor blip on a day that belonged to Kentucky on both sides of the ball.

Expectations of long passes and big points led to season ticket sale increases to 47,426, nearly 9,000 above last year. Smith's passing and Whitlow's running helped the Wildcats fulfill Stoops' initial promise of giving them something to cheer about by scoring on their first five drives.

Smith's passing quickly got Kentucky into Miami territory before Whitlow took over at the 18. After a 9-yard completion to Anthony Kendrick, Whitlow ran it in for a 7-0 lead to bring out the season's first siren.

The Wildcats continued with the combination in an up-tempo strategy that the RedHawks struggled to keep up with.

''You could kind of tell they were on their heels because they didn't know who to expect sometimes,'' said Whitlow, who finished 10 of 12 for 103 yards passing.

After Mansour's 22-yard field goal provided a 10-0 lead, Smith found George wide open down the left sideline for the Wildcats' second TD and overcame three straight penalties and second and 25 on their 12 to connect with Blue for the 88-yarder and a 24-7 lead. He hit Badet, who spun away from a defender, for the final TD.

Kentucky's relentless pass rush recorded five sacks of Miami's Austin Boucher - who was 4 of 14 for 23 yards passing - and limited Miami to just 1-of-16 third-down conversions.

''They executed and we didn't,'' Boucher said. ''We need to get some things fixed.''

Tagged: Miami (OH), Kentucky, Austin Boucher, Collin Boucher, Maxwell Smith

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