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QUICK-STRIKING SENIORS HELP CATS BEAT HOOSIERS, LIGHTNING

Date story was published: Sunday, September 15, 2002

For whatever reason, the University of Kentucky football team has gotten on Mother Nature's bad side.

Everyone that is, except Artose Pinner and Quentus Cumby.

For the second time in three years the Wildcats had to sit through a lightning delay, and for the second time in three years, UK came out sluggish afterward.

But the Cats were rescued from a potential defeat to Indiana by running back Pinner and fellow senior Cumby, a free safety.

Pinner, a 5-foot-11, 219-pounder, finished with 233 all-purpose yards, including a scintillating 55-yard run late in the third quarter that set up the go-ahead score, and Cumby returned an interception 82 yards for the clincher as UK held on for a 27-17 victory over the Hoosiers in front of a sellout crowd of 70,347 at Commonwealth Stadium.

With the victory, Kentucky surpassed its win total from last season and got off to its first 3-0 start since 1998.

"It wasn't pretty, but we're 3-0 and that's all that matters," said UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen. "We proved that we can win when it's ugly and that's key, because you're not going to come out with your `A' game every time."

UK Coach Guy Morriss was an assistant under Hal Mumme the last time the Wildcats faced a torrential downpour, and that night he sat and watched the Cats blow a 19-7 first-half lead to Louisville after a lengthy rain delay in the season opener two years ago.

So you couldn't blame Morriss if he muttered "Here we go again" when the officials stopped the game because of lightning with Kentucky ahead 14-0 in the second quarter.

And true to form, UK came out flat after the 32-minute delay. The Wildcat offense picked up just two first downs on its first four possessions after returning to the field, and IU slowly crept back into the game.

Pinner said that the team was hurt by the time off.

"It just stopped the momentum," he said. "We came in and it was 14-0. We had scored on back-to-back drives. We got kind of tight after the break and that affected us."

And when Joe Gonzalez returned Lorenzen's first interception of the season 36 yards for a score, the Hoosiers had a 17-14 lead with 1:28 left in the third.

But Pinner put the Wildcats on his shoulders. He caught a 19-yard pass from Lorenzen on the first play of the series, and then rambled through a series of IU arm tackles for a 55-yard gain to the Indiana 6-yard line on the last play of the third quarter.

Lorenzen then opened the fourth quarter with a play-fake and hit wide-open Chase Harp in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass to put UK back up 21-17 with 14:54 left.

Pinner finished with career-highs in both rushing and receptions last night, carrying 25 times for 141 yards while catching 10 passes for 92 yards.

"My mind frame was I refused to lose," Pinner said. "Give me the ball and I'll make the most of my plays. I got it done because they gave me the ball and I was willing to make the plays."

IU drove to the Kentucky 25 with three minutes remaining, but Cumby stepped in front of a Gibran Hamdan pass intended for Courtney Roby and went in untouched for a touchdown to put it out of reach.

It was Cumby's first touchdown of his UK career; he had a third-quarter interception negated by a holding penalty.

"I really didn't think he would throw it because I was right on top of (Roby)," said Cumby, a 6-1, 207-pounder. "It was kind of a bad read on his part."

The start of the game was delayed 26 minutes by inclement weather, but that delay didn't seem to bother the Cats as they came out clicking. The Wildcats' first offensive series was a beautifully scripted, run-pass mix, and Lorenzen's 12-yard pass to Aaron Boone capped the 11-play, 80-yard drive to give UK a 7-0 lead with 7:17 left in the first.

Lorenzen hit Pinner for a 7-yard TD strike on UK's next possession, and the Cats had a 14-point cushion with 2:24 left in the first half.

But officials stopped the game with 8:50 left in the second quarter after several bolts of lightning hit near the stadium.

While the Wildcats stagnated after the break, the Hoosiers suddenly came to life.

Robertson's 46-yard field with four seconds left in the first half brought the Hoosiers to within 14-3, and a third-quarter miscue by the UK secondary helped trim the margin to 14-10.

With 3:07 left in the third, Hamdan threw deep downfield to Glenn Johnson. Wildcat outside safety Mike Williams knocked down cornerback Derrick Tatum while covering a pass, and Johnson caught the ball near the 20 and scooted in for the touchdown.

Led by freshman tailback Yamar Washington's 163 rushing yards, Indiana outgained the Cats 394-327. IU might have left Commonwealth Stadium victorious if it hadn't shot itself in the foot on numerous occasions. Robertson missed field goals from 34 and 35 yards in the first half, and Hamdan lost a fumble at UK's 19-yard line on the last play of the first quarter.

Morriss said he'll point those things out to his team in the film session.

"Right at this very moment, I think it grounded them pretty hard," Morriss said of last night's win. "Listening to some of the comments of some players in the locker room, I don't think practice will be a problem this week at all."

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