Date published: Sunday, November 30, 2003
The Kentucky football team developed a dual personality during the 2003 season.
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The positive aspect? The Cats rarely get run off the field. And thanks usually to a valiant effort by the defense, they enter the fourth quarter with a chance to win.
The negative? The Cats almost never make the plays to win those games, thanks to a sputtering offense.
Why should yesterday be any different?It wasn't as No. 7 Tennessee left Commonwealth Stadium with a 20-7 victory on the Wildcats' Senior Day.
"Ain't that the story of the season?" said sophomore linebacker Chad Anderson. "I wish we're playing horseshoes. If we played horseshoes, we'd be ballers."
The Vols gained 270 yards of offense against Kentucky.
But Tennessee didn't need its best yesterday, especially when it gave up 187 yards of offense.
The Wildcats took a 7-3 lead into halftime but mustered 52 yards and five first downs in the final two periods. Thirty of those yards and two of the first downs came in the final minute after Cedric Houston's 10-yard run gave the Vols a 13-point lead.
Kentucky got off to a decent start, generating a 14-play, 66-yard drive on its second possession. Arliss Beach scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
Tennessee, on the other hand, was laboring. Offensive pass interference calls stalled its first two series, and quarterback Casey Clausen, battling a sinus infection, wasn't sharp, misfiring on eight of his first 12 passes with an interception.
The Cats could not take advantage.
A 33-yard Derek Abney punt return set them up at the UT 33-yard line. UK was able to get a first down at the Vols 17 early in the second quarter.
But quarterback Jared Lorenzen forced a pass into double coverage that Antwan Stewart picked off at the 2.
"A very ill-advised throw," UK Coach Rich Brooks said.
The UK defense then forced Tennessee into a three-and-out and Kentucky got the ball at the UT 44. Shane Boyd replaced Lorenzen at quarterback and threw an 11-yard completion to Glenn Holt. Boyd's next pass, though, was intercepted by Rashad Baker at the 18.
Kentucky would have the ball in good field position once more before the half, at the Tennessee 45, but a holding call contributed to a three-and-out on that possession.
Brooks knew the missed opportunities would hurt his team.
"We had the ball and a chance to do something with our good field position, but we have to get points out of it," he said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to capitalize and threw two interceptions down there."
The Vols needed 90 seconds to take the lead in the third quarter. A personal foul and a pass-interference penalty got Tennessee deep into UK territory. Clausen found Mark Jones for an 18-yard strike that gave UT a 10-7 lead at the 13:30 mark of the third.
Brooks took exception with the pass interference call and several others during the game.
"The opening drive (of the third quarter) was a killer," he said. "The pass-interference penalty? Wow."
Lorenzen said he could sense a little more intensity from the Vols in the second half.
"I think they were a little ticked off when they came out of the locker room," Lorenzen said. "I would imagine they got yelled and screamed at a little bit."
The regulars in the Kentucky offense then began to drop like flies. Already without Abney (foot injury) and starting right tackle Antonio Hall (concussion), UK also lost receiver Tommy Cook and left tackle Matt Huff to broken legs in the third quarter and lost receiver Chris Bernard briefly after he took a big hit from Gibril Wilson.
"Some of our (offensive) problems were the injuries, but a lot of it was Tennessee's defense," Brooks said.
Bernard said the Vols figured out the bubble screen. He should know: Wilson easily read the one Bernard got popped on.
"They made some good adjustments," Bernard. said "Our bubble play has really helped us all year and they found a way to get to that."
The Cats were in it until the end. The defense held Tennessee to a field goal, leaving it 13-7 with 10:51 left.
UK went backward on its ensuing series, however, as Keenan Burton was dropped for a 5-yard loss on a third-down screen.
Tennessee took over with 9:01 left and ate up 7 1/2 minutes before Houston's run sealed the deal.
"My hat goes off to the (Kentucky) staff and the team," Tennessee Coach Philip Fulmer said. "It wasn't easy, and it's never easy when Tennessee and Kentucky play."