By LARRY VAUGHT
Just when it looked like Benny Snell was finished playing late in the third period of Saturday’s game against Murray State when Kentucky had a 27-3 lead, head coach Mark Stoops suddenly put Snell back into the game in the Wildcat formation.
He had rushed for “only” 75 yards and it appeared Stoops was going to give him a few more carries to maybe reach 100 yards. Instead, Snell threw a forward pitch to normal quarterback Terry Wilson, who had gone in motion, that Wilson then gave to receiver Zy’Aire Hughes.
It was the first time the former McCracken County standout had touched the ball at UK — he started out as a cornerback before moving to receiver — and he took it 49 yards for a touchdown to officially give Snell his first touchdown pass at UK.
“We’ve been practicing all week. It’s actually called ’12 Fish’ and it’s a play designed for me to get a reverse and basically score. The whole time I’m thinking that I would score, but to me the play is just a reverse to get yardage off of, but I wanted to score,” Hughes said.
“They say get as wide as possible, but the way our receivers were blocking I saw a hole and that left me no choice but to cut it up and run for the touchdown.”
Hughes has struggled to get playing time because of UK’s depth at receiver but teammates know he was one of the team’s fastest players and he showed it.
“I was really happy to see Zy’Aire get that touchdown,” senior linebacker Josh Allen said. “It was a good play. He told me he was going to make that play, so I had to hold that to him.”
Hughes said his lack of opportunities has not discouraged him.
“I know what I’m capable of. If I get in, I know I’ll do something with the ball and with my opportunity. So, it’s not really frustrating, it’s actually kind of good as long as we’re winning,” Hughes said.
Snell got the final block to clear the way for Hughes to score and was more proud of that than the touchdown pass he got credit for throwing on the trick play.
“I’m the secure block, so I’m the safety guy. I seen him coming around and I was like, it’s on. I see a linebacker coming and I know the receiver takes care of the corner. It was good because the safeties were already beat and it was a one-on-one block with me and number six,” Snell said. “I gave it to him. I see Zy’Aire has the speed, so I just knew it was money.
“He’s so fast and with the Wildcat we have in motion and I knew I was going to get that block, too. I see Zy’Aire all the time in practice and he works his butt off every day and for that to be his first touchdown, it’s just so much more to come that you guys just haven’t seen.”
Wilson said he was telling Fish — the nickname he has for Hughes — before the game that the play would go for a touchdown.
“I said ‘I’m going to be down there celebrating with you.’ I was excited for my man to get that touchdown, that’s huge, so it was a very good thing for him,” Wilson said. “Benny was talking to me like ‘Yeah that’s my touchdown Terry’ and I’m just like ‘You can have it. It’s good man, we scored, so I’m glad.”