Ransdell the last UK QB to beat UT and Florida

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 19, 2010 

Since his Kentucky Wildcats football career ended in 1986, Bill Ransdell has spent almost a quarter of a century as the answer to two trivia questions.

1.) Name the last UK quarterback to beat Tennessee?

2.) Name the last UK quarterback to beat Florida?

Ransdell is tired of being Kentucky football's version of The Answer (apologies to Allen Iverson).

"It's been way too long," Ransdell, now 47, said Friday. "People say, 'But that's your record.' In my mind, it's not. I don't consider that a record."

On Saturday, Kentucky will travel to Gainesville looking to snap a 23-game losing streak against the Gators.

UK last beat Florida on Nov. 15, 1986. On a cold, misty day in Commonwealth Stadium, Ransdell led the Cats to a 10-3 win by completing 20 of 23 passes. His completion percentage (86.9) that day set a Southeastern Conference single-game record that stood until 1998.

UK's victory was secured when defensive back Tony Mayes both stripped the football from behind Florida receiver Ricky Nattiel and then recovered the ensuing fumble to stop a last-minute Gators drive inside Kentucky territory.

"That was my last home game," Ransdell said. "Tony Mayes was one of my best friends on the team and before the game I went up to him and we were both smiling, telling each other to go have fun. And, boy, did we have fun."

UK last beat Tennessee on Nov. 24, 1984. In Neyland Stadium before what was then the largest crowd (93,791) ever to see Kentucky play football, sophomore QB Ransdell supported the power running of George Adams (110 yards, two touchdowns) by completing 15 of 30 passes for 158 yards.

Kentucky won 17-12.

"They had Tony Robinson," Ransdell said of the UT quarterback that day. "The guy was a beast. He was everywhere. But our defense contained him for most of the day. George Adams scored two touchdowns and our offense moved the ball just enough."

At the time of that 1984 victory, it was UK's fourth in its last nine tries against Tennessee. Ransdell says no one in that moment would have dreamed that, 25 games later, it would also be the most recent.

"Not at all, not at all," he said. "Back then, Kentucky-Tennessee used to be a pretty good rivalry."

The fact that UK has gone so long without winning against Florida or Tennessee has made Ransdell's spot in Kentucky lore loom larger.

Isn't there even a small part of him that enjoys the distinction?

"Not even remotely. I'm ready to give up these 'last to beats,'" Ransdell said. "I want to see Kentucky beat these teams. And hopefully then people can ask me what it's like not to be the last quarterback to beat Florida and Tennessee."

Lorenzen a Monster

The Round Mound of Touchdown is back in professional football.

Jared Lorenzen says he won't be playing. Nor even coaching. Instead, the former University of Kentucky quarterback — who won a Super Bowl ring as Eli Manning's backup with the 2007 New York Giants — has signed to be the general manager for the brand-new Northern Kentucky River Monsters.

The arena team is scheduled to play in The Bank of Kentucky Center, the basketball facility at Northern Kentucky University. It will be part of the Ultimate Indoor Football League.

"I definitely won't be playing," Lorenzen said recently. "I am looking to sign guys who want to play."

Among other teams in the newly formed UIFL are the Eastern Kentucky Drillers, who will play in Pikeville's Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center.

The six-team league will begin play next February. Lorenzen's River Monsters open Feb. 25 against the Canton (Ohio) Cougars and make their home debut March 18 against the Johnstown (Pa.) Generals.

The Hefty Lefty says he will draw on his arena football experience. In 2009, he played in Rupp Arena for the now defunct Kentucky Horsemen.

"We're interested in signing some of the old Horsemen, some old Bengals," Lorenzen said.

In the meantime, Lorenzen is helping coach quarterbacks at the high school, Fort Thomas Highlands, where he became Kentucky's 1998 Mr. Football.

His prized pupil is 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior Patrick Towles, a grandson of U.S. Senator and Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.

"He's a stud quarterback," Lorenzen said of Towles. "He's 6-foot-4, 6-5, 230 pounds and runs a 4.6, 4.7 (40-yard dash). I'm hoping UK will be interested. There are Big Ten schools looking at him right now."

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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