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WILDCATS REGRESS VERSUS RIVALS, 26-15

Date story was published: Sunday, December 02, 2001

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Kentucky football team left its game againstTennessee two weeks ago feeling pretty good.

Apparently, the Wildcats forgot there was still one game to go.

The Cats looked like a program ready to turn the corner when they took thefourth-ranked Volunteers to the wire before falling 38-35.

But that team was nowhere to be found yesterday, as a flat and uninspiredgroup of Wildcats arrived in Bloomington and lost to archrival Indiana 26-15.

UK fell into a 19-7 first-half hole and never recovered. The loss snappedKentucky's six-game winning streak in the series.

Quarterback Jared Lorenzen and the UK offense had been on a roll for muchof the latter half of the season, producing nearly 471 yards a game over thepast five contests. Thanks to relentless pressure by the Hoosiers, Lorenzenand Co. came back down to earth yesterday.

Kentucky's only touchdown through the first three quarters came on a DerekAbney fumble recovery in the end zone.

The loss wrapped up UK's second consecutive 2-9 season and sapped much ofthe momentum gained with the strong showing against the Vols.

About the only time the Cats showed any life was during a bench-clearingfree-for-all after the final horn.

"I don't know exactly what happened," UK Coach Guy Morriss said. "We didn'tplay with the fire that we had (against Tennessee). We're not good enough tojust show up and be flat. We have to come out emotionally charged and firingon the same page.

"It was my fault for not having the team ready to play."

It was a happier ending for Indiana and its embattled coach, Cam Cameron.Like Morriss, Cameron's future on the sidelines is expected to be decided inthe coming weeks. But winning four of his final five games with victories overarchrivals Purdue and UK to close the season couldn't hurt.

"If Indiana does not want me to be its head coach next season they do notowe me a penny," Cameron said. "Indiana has done more for me than I could everdo for the university. If anyone owes anybody something, I owe the universitymore than it owes me."

Morriss said he'll meet with the players this afternoon and go about hisbusiness as usual.

"I'm going to keep coaching football and keep recruiting until (UKAthletics Director Larry Ivy) tells me otherwise," he said.

A fortuitous bounce allowed UK to take a 7-0 first-quarter lead yesterday.

The Cats faced third-and-11 from the IU 19 when Lorenzen found Tommy Cookopen on the left side of the field. As he was fighting for extra yardage, Cookwas stripped by IU linebacker Justin Smith at the 5-yard line. The ball took ahigh bounce into the end zone, and Hoosiers cornerback A. C. Carter appearedto have an angle on it. But Abney beat Carter to the spot and fell on the ballfor a UK touchdown with 6:32 left in the first quarter.

UK went three-and-out on its next four possessions.

Indiana, meanwhile, was just getting started. The Kentucky defense knewthat it would have to slow down quarterback Antwaan Randle El and the IUoption game to have a chance to win, and they did just that early on. Comingin, the Hoosiers were averaging 275 yards a game on the ground, but werelimited to 34 rushing yards in the opening period.

What the Cats probably didn't count on was Randle El beating them with hisarm. With UK overplaying the run, the Hoosiers switched gears and did theirbest Air Raid impersonation, as Randle El passed 21 times in the first half.

The results weren't always pretty. Randle El was not accurate, and Hoosiersreceivers botched several potential big plays with drops and mistimed routes.But IU did enough damage to take a 19-7 halftime lead.

After UK scored first, Randle El completed passes of 14 yards to TravisHaney and 9 yards to Aaron Halterman to set up first-and-10 at the Kentucky11. A holding penalty on UK moved the ball to the 5, and two plays laterJeremi Johnson bulled in from the 1 to tie the score with 2:47 left in thefirst quarter.

Randle El kept the Kentucky defense guessing with play-action, and hisperfectly executed play-fake left tight end Kris Dielman wide open for a30-yard touchdown. The failed extra-point left IU with a 13-7 lead, and RandleEl's 19-yard touchdown strike to Courtney Roby gave the Hoosiers a 19-7halftime lead.

Lorenzen couldn't get anything going at the start of the second half,either. Sacks (IU dropped Lorenzen five times) and miscommunications stalledUK's first two drives of the third period, and Johnson's 27-yard burst earlyin the fourth quarter ballooned IU's lead to 26-7.

How could a team that moved the ball so easily against one of the top teamsin the nation stagnate against a defense that had given up 2,422 passingyards?

"They just shut us down," Abney said. "Against Tennessee, we were confidentwe could get open and get some things done. Indiana had a counter foreverything."

Morriss said he didn't see any pre-game signs that his team would come outflat.

"Not at all," Morriss said. "I thought we practiced hard all week, and wewere fired up coming out of the locker room. But when the game started, wecouldn't find anybody to step up and make a play."

UK mounted a late rally when Lorenzen connected with Aaron Boone for a7-yard score, and the two-point conversion pass to Martez Johnson brought UKto within 26-15 with 4:07 left.

Indiana recovered the ensuing onside kick, but UK got the ball back onelast time and drove to the IU 19 with less than a minute remaining beforeLorenzen's pass intended for Boone was picked off by Marcus Floyd with 44seconds left.

As IU was attempting to run out the clock, Kentucky was whistled for apersonal foul after defensive end Chris Demaree shoved Hoosiers tight endHalterman.

When the game ended, both benches cleared and players exchanged punches,pushes and shoves for several minutes before order was restored.

Yesterday's game was originally scheduled for Sept. 15 but was rescheduledafter the terrorist attacks. Last week Indiana picked up an emotional 13-7 winagainst Purdue while the Cats had the week off.

Morriss said after the game that he originally didn't think the open weekwould affect his team, but he was rethinking that theory after yesterday'spoor performance.

"I felt like the week off would help us, as far as letting getting peoplehealed up," Morriss said. "In retrospect, it may have worked against us."

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