No catastrophe after clock commotion

ccosby@herald-leader.comSeptember 20, 2009 

Clock mismanagement by both the scoreboard operator and the Kentucky players and coaches forced the Wildcats to miss out on potential points just before halftime, which could have come back to bite them in Saturday's 31-27 win over Louisville.

Leading 17-7 late in the second quarter, UK had a first-and-goal from the Louisville 5-yard line with 15 seconds left. Kentucky was then penalized for a false start, and one second was incorrectly taken off the clock.

Official time is kept on the field, and the officials asked the scoreboard operator to reset the clock to 15 seconds. Left with no timeouts, Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline threw an ill-advised short pass to Chris Matthews in the flat, and Matthews was stopped at the 10-yard line. Problem was, the clock never moved.

The scoreboard operator had reset the clock to 15 seconds but did not return control of the time to the field officials, so when the official signaled for the clock to start, it did not move.

The officials ruled that time would have run out after Matthews was brought down, so the Cats had to settle for a 17-7 halftime lead.

Brooks was livid on his way to the locker room.

"We had a little clock problem, obviously," UK Coach Rich Brooks said. "I was told by the official that since the clock didn't start, we didn't have a chance to go over and (spike the ball) or run the field-goal team on there or anything. By rule, the half expired."

Brooks said Hartline should never have made the pass and should have thrown the ball out of the end zone. He said Matthews also should have batted the pass down instead of catching it. But he ultimately took responsibility for the problem

"That's on me, because I need to make sure that type of thing doesn't happen," Brooks said. "We wasted three points, which could have been extremely pivotal in the outcome of the game."

UK also burned several valuable seconds during the drive trying to change plays at the line of scrimmage.

"We did waste some time on that drive when we were trying to check," Brooks said. "We were trying to pick up the blitzes, and Mike wasted too much time. Those things will be corrected. The good news is, we can correct them after a win rather than a heartbreaking loss."

Sanders breaks arm

UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders suffered a broken arm after a collision on the sideline following a Derrick Locke kickoff return with 14:10 remaining.

Sanders went flying backward after being hit, and he broke the arm trying to brace his fall. Brooks said he didn't know if the injury would require surgery.

"Sometimes when you think you're still young and quick, you can't get out of the way," Brooks said. "It's a good lesson for everybody on the sideline. We've all seen what happened to several other coaches on the sidelines over the years. It's a dangerous place."

Sanders was taken for X-rays after the game.

No. 3 quarterback Tyler Sargent signaled plays in from the sideline when Sanders was being tended to by the training staff.

"We had to make a quick transition," UK head coach for offense Joker Phillips said. "Some things you might not spit out right, and Randy fixes it for me."

Lindley hurt

UK senior cornerback Trevard Lindley left the game with 2:31 left in the third quarter with a bruised knee and did not return.

Brooks said he didn't think the injury was serious, but Lindley will undergo further tests as a precaution.

Also, sophomore safety Matt Lentz left the game with what was labeled a minor concussion and did not return.

Conner productive

Senior fullback John Conner, who missed the season opener with a sprained ankle, had a big impact in his first game of 2009. He picked up 23 yards on a fourth-down carry to the Louisville 2-yard line and took it in for a score on the next play to give UK a 17-7 lead.

Locke big on special teams

Junior tailback Derrick Locke became the first UK player to return two kickoffs for 100-yard touchdowns in a career. He also had a 100-yarder against Western Kentucky last year.

Locke broke the school record for most kickoff-return yards in a game Saturday with 191 on four returns. Keenan Burton set the previous record (185) against Louisville in 2006.

■ Micah Johnson had a game-high eight tackles, and sophomore safety Winston Guy added 71/2.

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