Date published: Sunday, October 03, 2004
Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks was hoping last night would be the night it all came together for his inconsistent ball club.
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Instead, everything fell apart.
UK was snowed under by an avalanche of second-half errors that helped Ohio, a lower-tier Mid-American Conference team that the Cats handled 35-14 a year ago, leave Commonwealth Stadium last night with a shockingly easy 28-16 win.What UK quarterback Shane Boyd labeled a "rock-bottom" loss was the Bobcats' third win over a BCS program since 1973.
"Of my college career, this is the best game by far," said Ohio linebacker Matron Church, who both forced and recovered a fumble. "From the defensive linemen to the waterboys, we played our hearts out."
Meanwhile, a stunned and dejected Kentucky team was left to wonder whether it took the game seriously enough coming in. Brooks said he warned his players all week of how dangerous the Bobcats were, a message that obviously didn't register.
"We didn't expect this at all," said junior receiver Glenn Holt. "We didn't even possibly think about it turning out like this."
Kentucky trailed 14-10 midway through the third quarter when it turned the ball over five times on its next six possessions.
First, Holt dropped a lateral from Shane Boyd at the UK 38. A Lonnell Dewalt blocked field goal kept that from doing any damage, but Holt had a pass go through his hands and into the arms of Rashad Butler at the Ohio 39.
"We had a lot of chances to make plays, and not only did we not make them, we put a ribbon on the ball and handed it to Ohio," Brooks said.
But the Kentucky defense held after the first interception, and it looked as if the Cats were in position to take the lead after Scott Mitchell made a beautiful diving grab of a Boyd pass at the Ohio 11.
But on third-and-9 from the 10, Matt Muncy stepped in front of a Boyd pass intended for Mitchell for an interception at the 1-yard line.
Ohio quarterback Austen Everson then hit Scott Mayle on a quick slant, and Mayle split two UK defenders and took it 89 yards for a score to give the Bobcats a 21-10 lead with 9:38 remaining.
"How you can run a slant for 90 yards blows my mind, but that's exactly what they did," Brooks said.
Mayle, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound sophomore, caught four passes for 157 yards and two scores and also picked up 52 yards rushing on five end-around plays.
In addition to the aforementioned gaffes, UK also had a lateral deflected backward for a 25-yard loss; turned the ball over by failing to pick up a kickoff; missed a 30-yard field goal; and dropped numerous passes.
"There were drops all over the place," said UK offensive coordinator Ron Hudson. "More drops than I think I've ever seen."
Kentucky jumped on top 7-0 after an Alexis Bwenge 1-yard touchdown run with 5:19 left in the opening period, but that would be Kentucky's last touchdown until an Andre Woodson 2-yard touchdown pass to Dewalt with 1:10 left in the game. Brooks credited an Ohio defense that was ranked 25th in the country coming into the game.
"We went down the field a little easy early, but then it got very, very difficult," he said.
Ohio answered UK's first score by marching 80 yards and tying the game on Ryan Hawk's 9-yard touchdown run with four seconds left in the first quarter.
Hawk then went over the top to Mayle, who beat Antoine Huffman down the sideline for a 44-yard score to give Ohio a 14-7 lead with 10:24 left in the second quarter.
There was still some hope left to UK's season in spite of a 1-2 start when you consider the two losses were to pretty good teams in Louisville and Florida, and the Bobcats represented the first leg of a key three-game homestand.
But just how much hope is left for the Cats in 2004 is up in the air. While taking responsibility for not having his team prepared to play, Brooks also didn't try to downplay the significance of the loss and said he will take a closer look at his team's level of desire.
"If you think you can walk out the door and laugh this one off you're mistaken, because this is about as ugly as it gets," Brooks said. "I thought we had a chance for a breakthrough, but we've taken a huge hit. Now we'll have to see who wants to do it and do it right."