Date story was published: Sunday, October 17, 1993
It was not particularly soaked with sizzle or flooded with flash, but then it didn't need to be. The way Kentucky did it was the way the big boys do it. When the big boys are double-digit favorites and facing an obviously inferior team and playing at home, the big boys take care of business. And last night, Kentucky took care of business.
A budding star, Moe Williams, rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries. An efficient Pookie Jones threw for 164 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a bruised elbow (X-rays negative). A bullish Damon Hood had a pair of scores. A sure-handed Cat offense did not commit a turnover, and an opportunistic defense secured a trio. And UK took care of hapless LSU 35-17 at Commonwealth Stadium.
Just as an 11-point home favorite, facing a team that was embarrassed by 55 points a week ago, is supposed to do.
"I thought our demeanor and the way we took care of business was perfect," said head coach Bill Curry, "until we got a big lead, and then I thought our concentration slipped a little."
OK, so up 28-3 with 6:08 left in the third quarter, the Cats did allow their guests to score a pair of touchdowns. "We can't let that happen," Curry said.
True, big boys in the hunt can't let that happen, and UK is assuredly in the SEC East Division hunt. Florida, a 38-35 loser at Auburn yesterday, slipped to 4-1 in the conference. Kentucky is second at 3-1 (4-2 overall). And Tennessee, which was tied by Alabama 17-17 yesterday, is next at 3-1-1.
"The most fun in all of football is to be in the hunt," Curry said. "We are happy to be in the race."
And UK asserted its place in the chase in almost methodical fashion. "I want us to get to a place in our program where it's not such a big deal when we win a game," Curry said this week, and that was nearly the case.
Matt Riazzi's 22-yard punt return to the LSU 25 set up the Cats' first score, an 18-yard pass from Jones to tight end Terry Samuels. Next possession, UK marched 79 yards in 7:52 with Williams scoring from 2 yards out to make it 14-0.
"We had a little trouble getting started," Samuels said. "But once we got rolling, it became easy. I shouldn't say it was easy, it just seemed like every play complemented the other."
Even after LSU kicked a 46-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 14-3, UK took the second-half kickoff and marched 73 yards in eight plays with Damon Hood bursting up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown. That made it 21-3.
Two possessions later, linebacker Duce Williams recovered the fumble of LSU tight end David LaFleur at the Tiger 24. Three plays later -- one a 22-yard run on a late pitch from Jones -- Jones scored on a 1-yard sneak to make it 28-3.
That was too much for Curley Hallman's club to make up, the Tigers dropping to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in the league.
"Their confidence level is higher than in the last several years," said the embattled Hallman of Kentucky. "They beat us very soundly."
"The most exciting thing is that for the second straight week we went out and won," Curry said. "The second most exciting thing is that we had no turnovers. That's what we seek."
Indeed, playing in a near-constant rain and drizzle, UK did not turn the ball over in 73 offensive plays. The defense, meanwhile, intercepted its 15th pass of the season -- strong safety Marcus Jenkins improved his SEC-leading total to six -- and recovered two fumbles, all in helping coordinator Mike Archer beat the school he served as head coach for four seasons (1987-90).
In fact, Archer was awarded a game ball afterward. "Yes, of all things, I'm glad it's over," Archer said. "It was hard on me and my family. It was hard on my players. There was a lot of pressure because of the circumstances. I'd kind of tried not to think about it but then it hit me this morning."
If it hasn't before now, it may also hit the rest of the SEC this morning that Kentucky, of all people, is right there among the big boys.
"I felt like we could have executed better," Jones said. "We put up 35 points, but I know we didn't do our best offensively. We made a lot of mistakes."
But then what does that say, that Kentucky can beat LSU by 18 points, win its third consecutive game over a league team for the first time since 1977, and not be satisfied?
Said Jones, smiling, "That says a whole lot."
After all, the big boys are never satisfied.