Date story was published: Sunday, September 3, 2000
LOUISVILLE -- Game 7 of the modern Kentucky-Louisville series turned out to be a night of lightning at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
After a wild, almost surreal night of events that including a 74-minute delay because of lightning and torrential downpours, it was the Cards who struck last, and pulled out a miraculous 40-34 overtime win over archrival Kentucky.
It was Louisville's second consecutive win over the Cats, giving them a 4-3 edge since the series was resumed in 1994.
"We came out on the wrong end for the second year in a row," UK Coach Hal Mumme said. "I'm very disappointed, but we'll start getting over it on Monday."
The Cards seemed on the verge of a short-circuit late in regulation. After quarterback Dave Ragone fumbled a low snap from center Jason Padget, Marlon McCree picked it up and ran back to the Cardinal 2-yard line before he was tripped up by Louisville receiver Arnold Jackson.
With first-and-goal from the 2 and 47 seconds remaining on the clock, the Cats appeared to be sitting pretty.
But after running two plays and killing the clock for placekicker Brandon Sanders, Louisville safety Curry Burns bolted through and blocked the low kick to force overtime.
Louisville Coach John L. Smith said Burns did nothing fancy to get the block.
"He pushed the pile and just hoped to get up in the middle,E Smith said. "The kid (Sanders) probably had a low trajectory."
After winning the overtime coin toss, U of L deferred to the Cats and UK took over on the 25-yard line. After the Cards jumped off sides on the first play from scrimmage, safety Anthony Floyd intercepted a Jared Lorenzen pass to turn the ball over to Louisville.
It took just one play for Tony Stallings to hit pay dirt, as he darted through the UK defensive line at the 25 and ran in untouched for the game-winner.
"I jab-stepped and saw an opening, and I said to myself, 'Tony, end the game ... Go!,'" Stallings said.
The Cards ran roughshod through the UK defense all night, racking up 186 yards on the ground.
Stallings, a 5-11, 210-pound junior making his first career start at running back, finished with 144 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Junior-college transfer Chris Lester chipped in 71 yards on 17 carries.
Stallings picked up most of his yards on a simple counter play.
"We ran it all night," he said.
"It kept working; that's why we went to it," Ragone said. "It was our bread and butter."
The first lightning bolts of the night came by way of Lorenzen, who came out and fired two 34-yard touchdown passes on his first two collegiate possessions.
After he added a 1-yard scoring run with 10:37 left in the second quarter, the Cats enjoyed a 19-7 cushion that they would take into intermission.
Ragone would find Arnold Jackson midway through the third quarter for a 12-yard pass play to bring the Cards to within 19-14 when Mother Nature sent her version of lightning down on the field. With 8:11 left in the third, the officials deemed the weather conditions unsafe and sent the two teams back to their locker rooms.
After play resumed, the Cards came back with a few bolts of their own, taking their first lead of the night at 20-19 on a 1-yard Stallings run by Stallings with 4:27 left in the third.
The game then turned into a comedy of errors as the teams combined for nine turnovers after the weather delay.
Padget, who had problems delivering snaps all night, sailed one over Ragone's head at his own 30. The ball dribbled all the way back to the 9 before McCree scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown. Lorenzen then hit Derek Smith for the two-point conversion to give UK a 27-20 lead with 12:50 remaining.
Jackson came in as U of L's all-time leading receiver but it was junior college transfer Deion Branch that the UK secondary had the most trouble with as the 5-10, 190-pounder beat Patrick Wiggins for an 18-yard touchdown that tied the score at 27 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.
It took less than 30 seconds for UK to strike back.
Lorenzen then showed off the cannon arm that got him the starting job. On a three-step drop, he zipped a deep ball to Quentin McCord, who brought the ball in just over a diving, gambling Floyd. McCord then coasted into the end zone for a 67-yard TD to make it 34-27 going into the fourth quarter.
Lorenzen finished 22-for-34 for 367 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in his debut.
"He made his mistakes -- this was his first start -- but this was something he can build on and get better from," Mumme said. "He's a redshirt freshman. We don't expect him to play flawlessly. He made two or three throws nobody can make. I felt good about him. I just wish he hadn't thrown an interception in overtime."
Lorenzen's counterpart, Ragone, was 23-for-30 passing for 256 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"He did better than Lorenzen," said Louisville defensive tackle Derrick Kennedy. "They both did a good job, but Dave kept his composure, delivered the ball and showed he could do it in a game."
After Lester tied the game on a 3-yard run with 3:37 left on the clock, things started getting really strange.
The Cats were driving for the potential game-winner when Derek Smith fumbled at the U of L 21 following a 17-yard gain with 3:04 remaining.
Ragone then pushed Louisville to midfield for its potential game-winning score when McCree came through with his second fumble recovery.
"It was such a roller coaster game," John L. Smith said. "We'd goof up on offense and the defense would get us back together."
Mumme downplayed the significance of the loss.
"It's not that important a game for us," he said. "The important games are conference games. I know everyone likes to make it seem like a big deal, but we don't really benefit from playing a team that lives to beat us. It's just the first game. We'll be over it by Monday."