Wildcats are unwelcome hosts in rout of Hilltoppers

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Tony Dixon ran for two touchdowns and Kentucky ruined Western Kentucky's first visit to Commonwealth Stadium in a 41-3 victory on Saturday.

Derrick Locke added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Wildcats (4-0), who will enter Southeastern Conference play unbeaten for the second straight year.

Just don't confuse unbeaten for unbeatable.

Kentucky's offense struggled for long stretches against the Hilltoppers, only occasionally coming to life, thanks mostly to the play of Dixon and fellow running backs Locke and Alfonso Smith.

Bobby Rainey had 248 total yards for the Hilltoppers (2-3), including 99 on the ground and 149 on kickoff returns.

Still, it wasn't nearly enough for WKU to knock off the Wildcats.

Kentucky harassed WKU quarterback K.J. Black all night, limiting him to just 8 yards passing and sacking him four times. The Hilltoppers had hoped their spread offense would give the Wildcats as much trouble as Middle Tennessee State's version did two weeks ago. Kentucky needed a diving tackle at the 1-yard line on the game's final play to avoid the upset against the Blue Raiders.

There would be no last-gasp heroics necessary this time. Dixon, Smith and Locke made sure of that. The trio combined for 146 yards as the Wildcats eventually wore the Hilltoppers down in the second half.

WKU is in the final year of transition from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision and have been waiting nearly a century to take on the state's flagship school.

Kentucky hardly played the role of hospitable host, though it took the Wildcats a while to get going under a slew of dropped passes and relatively lethargic play.

Dixon jumped over from 1 yard to put Kentucky up 10-0 early in the second quarter. But WKU cut it to 10-3 on a 50-yard field goal by Tanner Siewert with 3:07 remaining in the half.

The momentum lasted all of 15 seconds, or about as long as Locke took to race 100 yards with the ensuing kickoff to put the Wildcats up 17-3.

The score seemed to wake up the Wildcats, who put the game away in the third quarter. Smith capped a drive with a 35-yard touchdown run and Mike Hartline followed with a 2-yard scoring pass to Moncell Allen.

Hartline's numbers were hardly staggering. He completed 19 of 30 passes for 172 yards and a score but also threw his first interception of the season.

It was workmanlike but not exactly spectacular. The road gets much tougher for Kentucky next week when the Wildcats travel to Alabama.

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