Former University of Kentucky quarterback Reese Phillips, now a senior at Montana, hadn’t started a football game since high school.
He made his first one Saturday count, throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-23 win at home against Valparaiso.
“There were some jitters before (the game),” Phillips said, according to a report on the school’s website. “Getting used to being hit again was the biggest thing. I got comfortable as the game went on.”
It took a little time for Phillips to shake off the rust. Montana only led 17-13 at halftime and he didn’t throw his first touchdown pass, a 14-yarder, until there was 3:24 to go in the third quarter.
Never miss a local story.
He followed that up with three more in the fourth quarter — from 45, 25 and 17 yards out — as Montana put the game away.
“We were fine; we were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” Phillips said. “As we went on, that’s what we are. That’s what we are when we start scoring a lot and scoring quick.”
Phillips played sparingly in two seasons at Kentucky before transferring to Montana. He was the team’s backup last season, playing in four games and completing eight of 15 passes for 50 yards.
More stars from Saturday
Phillips wasn’t the only player with ties to Kentucky that played a starring role for schools outside the Bluegrass on Saturday.
Jeff Badet, Oklahoma: Former Kentucky wide receiver Jeff Badet had four receptions for 91 yards, including a highlight-reel grab on an underthrown ball for 51 yards, in Oklahoma’s 56-7 win against UTEP.
“I just knew I created separation so I was kind of expecting the ball over the top but I saw it was a jump ball and I like jumping, so I was like ‘I’ve got to come down with this ball,’” Badet told OUDaily.com.
“It feels great for how long I’ve been away from football. Finally being able to go against someone else rather than our defense for three and a half weeks,” he said. “I had a lot of fun today.”
Elijah Sindelar, Purdue: Kentucky’s Mr. Football from Caldwell County in 2014 made his first collegiate start and split time at quarterback with David Blough in the Boilermakers’ 35-28 loss to Louisville in Indianapolis.
He got Purdue on the board first with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Anthrop, and later gave the Boilermakers another lead — 28-25 in the fourth quarter — with a 14-yard strike to Anthrop.
“We keep fighting no matter what,” Sindelar said, according to a report by the school. “That’s going to be our M.O. We’re going to build on it. The way that the defense played, the way the offense kept fighting.”
Sindelar finished 15-for-31 for 118 yards and two TDs and one interception while Blough was 18-for-26 for 175 yards for two TDs and two picks.
“It was a close competition,” Coach Jeff Brohm said. “We’ll let them compete. Elijah can make plays. David does good things, too. The plan is keep playing them and let it play out. Hopefully, it makes our team better.”
Damien Harris, Alabama: The former Madison Southern star, who chose the Tide over Kentucky, ran for 73 yards and a touchdown in No. 1 Alabama’s 24-7 defeat of No. 3 Florida State. He also blocked a punt and had one catch for 11 yards.
“Any time you score a touchdown, it feels good,” Harris told the Orlando Sentinel. “Tonight was a great test with a great opponent hopefully we can continue to have that moving forward.”
Tre Hornbuckle, Duke: The sophomore defensive end out of Murray High School made six tackles, including 3.5 for a loss, and forced a fumble in the Blue Devils’ 60-7 rout of North Carolina Central.
Former Kentucky linebacker De’Niro Laster had nine tackles in the Eagles’ loss.