Date story was published: Sunday, October 22, 2000
Kentucky Coach Hal Mumme scoffed all week at reports that a sprained shoulder would keep Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter out of yesterday's game, saying he fully expected the talented junior to be under center when the Bulldog offense took the field.
As it turned out, Georgia Coach Jim Donnan wasn't sandbagging. Carter took in the game from the sidelines fresh in his No. 17 jersey and sweat pants.
Unfortunately for the rain-soaked crowd of 68,565 at Commonwealth Stadium, the Wildcat defense continued its pattern of making previously obscure quarterbacks look like Kurt Warner.
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Cory Phillips, a former walk-on making his first career start, ripped the Cats for 400 yards passing and four touchdowns as the 12th-ranked Bulldogs held on for a wild 34-30 win.
The previous two weeks UK had allowed South Carolina's Phil Petty a 228-yard day and LSU's Josh Booty to throw three touchdown passes.
"Our guys were open pretty much all game," Donnan said. "We made a lot of good catches at the point of attack. I thought we could score a lot of points on them because everybody has."
Phillips' performance overshadowed a record-setting afternoon by Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen, who like Carter was questionable coming into the game after spraining his left (throwing) thumb on center Keith Chatelain's helmet during Thursday's practice. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder completed 39 of his 58 passes for 528 yards, knocking Tim Couch and his 499-yard performance against Arkansas in 1998 off the top of the UK charts.
"I thought he was very courageous out there today," Mumme said. "I know his thumb hurt him today on a couple of throws, but you have to give him credit for his courage and performance."
Lorenzen's big day prompted a reporter to ask Donnan if he suspected UK of duping the Dawgs.
"I don't see any reason why they would deceive anybody," Donnan said. "If he did (injure the thumb), he ought to hurt it every Thursday."
There was nothing coming into the game that pointed toward a shootout. Georgia had the Southeastern Conference's worst offense even with Carter at the helm, while Kentucky entered the game on the heels of six scoreless quarters.
But the Cats were able to shred the SEC's top defense for a whopping 620 yards of total offense, and the assault started on Lorenzen's first play from scrimmage. Pinned inside his own 1-yard line, the redshirt freshman play-faked and found Derek Smith wide open on the left seam, and the big sophomore tight end took it 89 yards to the Bulldog 10.
Lorenzen called his own number on the very next play, carrying two Georgia defenders into the end zone for a 10-yard scoring run and a 7-0 lead.
UK would get field goals from Seth Hanson on its next two drives, and the Cats had themselves a nice 13-point cushion with 9:44 left in the second quarter.
But after Billy Bennett's 32-yard field goal got Georgia on the board with 5:19 left in the second quarter, Phillips slowly began to find his groove. His 15-yard touchdown pass to Damien Gary with 1:42 left in the half sent the Bulldogs into intermission trailing just 13-10.
The third quarter looked like your average PlayStation game, with very little tackling and plenty of big plays.
On the first play of the second half, Lorenzen dumped a pass off to Ernest Simms in the flat and the 5-8, 170-pound sophomore wiggled his way into the open field before sprinting past the Georgia secondary and taking it 86 yards for a 20-10 Wildcat advantage 29 seconds into the third period.
Back came the Bulldogs. After UK corner Eric Kelly let a sure interception bounce off his shoulder pads, Phillips found Reggie Brown in the flat, and the sophomore eluded Derrick Tatum, made a move on Kelly and took it 40 yards to the house to bring Georgia to within 20-17. Time elapsed53 seconds.
UK did a good job stuffing the Bulldog running game, but Phillips and the Bulldog receivers had their way with the Wildcats' attempt at zone coverage. The Georgia offensive line also kept Phillips clean, holding the Kentucky defense without a sack for the first time all season.
"They played a little bit different than they have in the past," Donnan said. "They played a lot more zone, so it was important for him to read the coverages and for us to give him maximum protection."
Mumme said that once the Bulldogs figured out that UK was playing primarily zone coverage, things began to get out of hand.
"Defensively we're struggling," he said, "We've played man-to-man most of the year, but it only took them a few plays to realize we'd switched to zone. Once they figured out where our men were, it's easy to throw to the seams."
After Georgia tied it on Bennett's 33-yard field goal midway through the third, the Cats came with a blitz for one of the few occasions yesterday and paid dearly for it.
Georgia running back Jasper Sanks picked up a charging Marlon McCree, and Phillips found Gary over the middle. Gary then shed a diving Willie Gary (no relation) and bolted 85 yards down the left side for his second touchdown catch and a 27-20 Bulldog lead with 12:45 remaining.
The Wildcats had one more big play left in them. Quentin McCord took a dump-off from Lorenzen on third-and-1 and went 75 yards to tie the score.
The Cats had the ball twice in the final 5:55 with a chance for the go-ahead touchdown, but the first possession was stalled by Georgia's only sack of the game, and Lorenzen was picked off on fourth-and-14 from his own 25 with 48 seconds left in what was UK's final breath.
The loss dropped UK to 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the SEC, eliminating any possibility of a third consecutive bowl appearance under Mumme. The Cats will now have a bye week before Mississippi State visits on Nov. 4.
"Now all we have left to play for is pride," Lorenzen said.