Date published: Sunday, September 19, 2004
The goose egg the Kentucky offense laid against Louisville two weeks ago suddenly transformed into a golden egg at Commonwealth Stadium last night.
Senior quarterback Shane Boyd led the way. Boyd celebrated his 22nd birthday in grand fashion, going off for 335 yards of total offense and four touchdowns as UK ripped Indiana 51-32 in front of 65,532 pleasantly surprised onlookers.The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Boyd had it all working last night. After a shaky passing effort against U of L, Boyd was on the money against the Hoosiers, hitting on 21 of his 30 passes for 205 yards and two scores. Boyd's 21 completions were spread among seven receivers.
Ever the dangerous runner, Boyd also bobbed and weaved through the IU defense for 130 yards on 17 carries and two more TDs. It was the first time a UK quarterback ran for more than 100 yards in a game since Pookie Jones against Kent State in 1993.
UK offensive coordinator Ron Hudson summed up last night's game while he was chatting with an IU assistant coach on the elevator down from the press box after the game.
"We have an athletic quarterback," he said. "That's the only difference."
It was a big difference. Boyd appeared in control of the game the whole night, looking relaxed as he checked in plays at the line of scrimmage and moved UK up and down the field.
"He's an awfully good player," Indiana Coach Gerry DiNardo said. "I don't think we expected him to gain over a hundred yards (rushing) on us, but we knew he was that kind of player."
"It means a whole lot," Boyd said. "It gives us a lot of confidence, because we kind of stunk up the place at Louisville."
A Taylor Begley field goal tied the score at 3 and gave the Cats their first points of the season.
On UK's next possession, Boyd almost single-handedly led the team to the end zone. He hit on all four of his passes for 54 yards and carried twice for 22 more yards. The second carry was a 13-yard scamper that gave the Cats a 10-9 lead early in the second quarter.
From there, the game quickly evolved into a shootout.
Freshman Tony Dixon took an option pitch and bolted 67 yards for a score, and IU quarterback Matt LoVecchio hooked up with Courtney Roby for a 44-yard TD strike less than two minutes later. Aaron Halterman's two-point conversion tied the game at 17 with 10:11 left in the second quarter.
After LoVecchio gift-wrapped a screen pass into the hands of UK defensive end Sweet Pea Burns at the IU 24, Boyd caught the Hoosier defense blitzing on third-and-goal from the 9 and ran a draw up the middle untouched for a 24-17 Wildcat lead.
"They bring a lot of blitzes, and I thought Coach Hudson made some great calls with the draws and trap plays," UK Coach Rich Brooks said.
Begley tacked on a 23-yard field goal to give Kentucky a 10-point cushion at intermission, but then UK appeared to start the second half in an all-too-familiar mode of trying to find ways to lose.
Under heavy pressure deep in his own territory, Boyd was hit by Kenny Kendal as he was raising his arm to throw on the third play of the second half.
The ball popped right into the hands of Victor Adeyanju. His 4-yard jaunt into the end zone brought Indiana to within three, 27-24.
Boyd's pick that was returned for a TD against Louisville seemed to take the air out of the UK offense.
This time, however, the Cats showed resilience, bouncing back with a six-play, 80-yard drive that took just a minute and a half, capped by Scott Mitchell's 19-yard catch-and-run for a 34-24 Wildcat advantage.
Brooks said he was proud of how the offense responded to adversity.
"They score, we score, they score, we score. We answered almost everything that they threw at us tonight," Brooks said. "That's something our team always hasn't done very well."
The UK defense set Boyd and Co. up for another score on the kickoff. Marcus McClinton jarred the ball loose from Lance Bennett, and Raymond Fontaine recovered at the IU 27. Alexis Bwenge's 1-yard score and Glenn Holt's 12-yard TD catch-and-run on a middle screen gave Kentucky a 48-24 lead late in the third quarter.
Kentucky has momentum going into next week's game at Florida, but Brooks isn't ready to declare the corner turned just yet.
"I'm just so thrilled for these young men to come out and have some fun tonight," Brooks said. "We've still got a lot of work to do, and we're still not where we need to be. This is not a salve that will heal our wounds, but obviously they responded to a challenge and responded in a very, very positive manner."