LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It took a fourth-quarter comeback for Kentucky to force overtime and hold off FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky in the extra period for a 34-27 win on Saturday night.
Patrick Towles threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns, including one in the final minute of regulation and one in overtime.
The Wildcats (4-1) trailed 27-13 lead with 7:39 remaining, but JoJo Kemp's 7-yard TD run with 4:59 remaining followed by Towles' 5-yard touchdown pass to Dorian Baker with 52 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 27.
Eastern Kentucky (2-2) got the ball back and ran out the clock, forcing the extra period.
The momentum carried over into overtime for the Wildcats. Towles' 3-yard pass to Baker on Kentucky's first series of overtime gave the Wildcats the touchdown they needed to avoid the upset. The Wildcats stopped Eastern Kentucky on four downs to end the contest.
Kentucky's offense struggled in the first three quarters before gaining traction in the fourth. Baker hauled in eight passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Blake Bone added seven catches for 85 yards.
Kentucky had a slow start coming off a 21-13 win over then-No. 25 Missouri, though Towles opened the scoring on a 1-yard keeper with 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Towles' run by was set up by his own 40-yard completion to Blake Bone.
Kentucky was without top running back Stanley "Boom" Williams, who missed some time at practice last week while dealing with "personal issues." Williams, the No. 7 rusher in the Southeastern Conference coming into the contest (85.8 yards per game), was on the sidelines.
Williams' absence showed, especially in the first half, as the Wildcats rushed for just 23 yards. Kentucky finished with 55 yards rushing, led by Kemp, who had 46 yards on 14 carries.
The Colonels' inspiring effort came following an emotional week as Eastern Kentucky was mourning the death of teammate Joey Kraemer, who was killed in a single-vehicle accident last week in Richmond. The Colonels wore patches on the front of their jerseys with the initials "JK" in memory of Kraemer, while Kentucky observed a moment of silence to honor Kraemer prior to kickoff.