Date story was published: Sunday, September 5, 1993
A new-and-improved Kentucky defense teamed with a veteran quarterback to get the Cats' 1993 season out of the gate cleanly last night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Last in the Southeastern Conference in total defense each of the last two years, the UK defenders pitched a shutout for their new coordinator, Mike Archer, blanking Kent 35-0.
It was the first shutout at Kentucky for Bill Curry, in his fourth season as the Wildcats' coach. It also was UK's first blanking of an opponent since beating Cincinnati 31-0 in 1989. So dominant were the Cats that Kent got no closer than the UK 34-yard line until there was less than five minutes left in the game.
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Offensively, UK quarterback Pookie Jones threw for two scores and ran for two more. Jones hit Alfonzo Browning with a 56-yard scoring pass in the first quarter and tight end Terry Samuels with a 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He also had a 9-yard touchdown run in the first half and a dazzling 60-yard scramble for a score during a 21-point UK fourth quarter.
In all, Jones carried 16 times for 130 yards, a career high. It was the first time a Cat quarterback had run for 100 or more yards since Terry Henry rushed for 112 against Utah State. Jones also completed six of 12 passes for 181 yards, giving the junior 311 yards in total offense.
It was Kentucky's seventh consecutive opening-game victory. The Cats meet defending SEC Eastern Division champ Florida, a 44-6 victor over Arkansas State yesterday, next week at Commonwealth Stadium.
But the big question for the Cats was the defense, a new 4-3 scheme under the guidance of Archer, the former LSU head coach who replaced Larry New. Not that Kent was going to be a major test, the Golden Flashes going 3-19 the past two years and losing their starting quarterback during pre-season drills.
Still, the Kentucky defense held Kent without a first down until there were 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. In all, the Cats allowed just three first downs the first half and 65 total yards (52 rushing and 13 passing). Kent had just 104 yards through three quarters.
Kent did drive inside the UK 30-yard line late in the game, but Cat cornerback Adrian Sherwood intercepted Mike Acie's pass with 3:44 left to seal the shutout.
The home offense struggled a bit until finally breaking through when Jones found Browning over the middle at the 30-yard line, and the senior wingback skipped in for the score, completing the 56-yard pass play, giving the home team a 7-0 lead with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
UK's second score came with 2:44 left in the second period. The Cats drove 64 yards in nine plays with Jones scoring on a 9-yard option run.
It was 14-0 Kentucky at the half and remained so through a scoreless third quarter.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Cats got on the board three times. First, Jones hit a wide-open Samuels with a 28-yard touchdown pass. Brent Claiborne's extra point was blocked, but the Cats' lead was 20-0.
Next came Jones' scramble, where the junior was rolling left, found pressure, turned back right and zipped all the way for the score. Jones then hit Samuels for the two-point conversion, making it 28-0. That was it for the Murray native, the first time in his three-year career he has left the game because of a fat Cat lead.
Antonio O'Ferral quarterbacked the next drive, leading the Cats on a short 35-yard scoring march. Freshman tailback Donnell Gordon did the scoring honors, taking an option pitch 9 yards for the touchdown.
Mo Williams, UK's freshman sensation tailback, fumbled on his first collegiate carry, losing the ball with 1:37 remaining in the first quarter. But the Georgia native came back and ran for 38 yards on 10 carries in the first half.