Date story published: Sunday, October 14, 2001
It all seemed to be in place.
Everything that needed to happen for the Kentucky football team to pull off a much-needed upset of LSU happened.
There was a juiced-up Homecoming crowd of 52,471 at Commowealth Stadium.
The much-maligned offense got a boost courtesy of Jared Lorenzen.
The defense actually made some big plays, and the Cats even caught a few rare breaks.
But when push came to shove, UK walked off the field with that old familiar feeling.
LSU got a 6-yard touchdown pass from Rohan Davey to freshman Michael Clayton with 13 seconds remaining to pull off a 29-25 come-from-behind win over the Wildcats last night.
And instead of picking up what could have been a signature win for first-year coach Guy Morriss, the Cats dropped to 1-5 and were left thinking what if.
"It would have been huge," Morriss replied when asked what a win would have meant to UK. "It would have been huge. Extra big."
The tough loss zapped much of the excitment generated by a brilliant relief performance by Lorenzen, who came off the bench to throw two touchdown passes that gave UK a 25-22 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Lorenzen, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound sophomore, lost his job to Shane Boyd after a season-opening loss to Louisville and had played sparingly ever since.
But after Boyd threw his second interception of the night at the LSU 1-yard line with UK trailing 22-10 early in the third quarter, Morriss turned to Lorenzen, and the former Mr. Football came out sizzling.
He completed three of his four passes, and showed quite a bit of headiness on his first touchdown throw, drawing the LSU defense offsides before finding Aaron Boone deep down the left sideline for a 31-yard score that brought UK to within 22-17 with 4:16 left in the third period.
LSU was then forced to punt, and Lorenzen picked up right where he left off on the last drive. He found Derek Smith for 23 yards and Derek Abney for 30 before hitting Abney on a crossing route for a 28-yard touchdown with 8:28 remaining. He then lobbed the two-point conversion pass to Smith in the back of the end zone to give Kentucky a 25-22 lead.
"Coming off the sidelines was the best scenario for me tonight," Lorenzen said. "I was able to watch the first half and get comfortable with LSU's defensive tendencies."
And though the UK defense gave up 515 yards to the Tigers, they were able to offset some of that with big plays.
Patrick Wiggins and Chris Gayton picked up the Cats' first two interceptions of the season, and UK had six tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including three quarterback sacks.
And when the Wildcat defense forced LSU to punt on its next possession, UK had the ball, a three-point lead, and a chance to burn some of the seven minutes and 17 seconds remaining in the game.
The Cats were able to run the clock down to 3:34, but Lorenzen threw incomplete under heavy pressure on third-and-1 from the LSU 44.
Morriss then decided to punt on fourth down, and LSU had the ball at its own 20 with 3:18 remaining.
Davey, who completed 27 of his 38 passes for 383 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, was at his best on the game-winning drive, going 8-for-9 for 86 yards.
UK defensive tackle Ellery Moore broke through and dropped Davey for a nine-yard loss to bring up second-and-19 from the Kentucky 36, but Davey coolly found Clayton for gains of 18 and eight yards, and then picked up nine yards on a keeper to the UK 10-yard line with 23 seconds left.
Kentucky then forced LSU into third-and-goal from the 6, and the Tigers went to a play that had been there all night: the slant.
Clayton got inside position on cornerback Derrick Tatum and Davey threaded a pass in between Tatum and linebacker Morris Lane for the game-winning score.
"That's a tough route to stop anyway," Morriss said. "And it's so tough with the receivers they've got and the quarterback they've got."
Clayton, a 6-foot-4, 185-pounder who was rated by many recruiting analysts as the nation's top prep receiver a year ago, finished with nine catches for 105 yards and two scores.
Kentucky got the ball back with 12 seconds remaining, but two desperation heaves by Lorenzen were off the mark.
LSU began to get the Kentucky defense off-balance on its first possession of the game. Davey completed passes of 28 yards to Josh Reed and 27 yards to Jerel Myers before LaBrandon Toefield, who finished with 129 yards on 28 carries, ripped down the right sideline for a 35-yard run to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 9:24 left in the opening period.
As it has much of the season, the Kentucky offense struggled in the early going. After John Corbello kicked a 34-yard field goal to give LSU a 10-0 lead, the Cats were pinned back at their own 3-yard line when Boyd was whistled for intentional grounding.
As Boyd dropped back to pass on the next play, center Nick Seitze was whistled for a hold in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 12-0 Tiger lead.
Boyd began to find a rhythm in UK's third offensive possession. He found Dougie Allen on a 21-yard bootleg, and Boone took a receiver screen and rumbled his way to the LSU 10. The Cats, however, would have to settle for a 24-yard Seth Hanson field goal to bring them to within 12-3 early in the second quarter.
Davey, meanwhile, continued to pick apart the Wildcat defense. Toefield's 49-yard catch-and-run set up the Tigers first-and-10 at the UK 13, and on third-and-6, Davey found Clayton for a 9-yard scoring play to give LSU a 19-3 advantage.
Boyd went 6-for-8 passing for 48 yards to set up UK at the LSU 26, and then the 6-2, 230-pound redshirt freshman used his feet to get the Wildcats into the end zone for the first time. First he took a quarterback draw off the right side for 13 yards, and then he faked a handoff to Artose Pinner and weaved his way to a 13-yard scoring run to make it 19-10 with 3:23 left in the first half.
Corbello would tack on another field goal from 46 yards out 1:16 before halftime to give LSU a 22-10 halftime lead.
Lorenzen finished 6-for-11 passing for 146 yards and two scores, and he added 28 yards on five carries. Boyd went 17-for-31 passing for 140 yards and two interceptions and ran for 41 yards and a score on five carries.
Morriss said was non-commital about which quarterback would start for next week's game at Georgia.
"I don't think Coach Richt needs to know who we'll be playing at quarterback next week," he said. "We probably won't announce that until game day."
And while the Cats can point to plenty of positives from last night's game, they didn't pick up the one thing they needed the most. A win.
"It's frustrating," Boone said. "I don't want to make any more excuses. It's time for us to step up. We're close to getting over the hump, but we can't quite make it."