Date story was published: Sunday, September 19, 1999
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Louisville said the Cats were... well, the Cards were too busy scoring to say much. UConn said the Cats were soft, couldn't hit, couldn't tackle.
And Indiana said they were a has-been, a pale shadow of the senior-dominated Kentucky Wildcats the Hoosiers nearly beat a year ago.
"I think," Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El said last week, "we can handle them and beat them."
And Hal Mumme kept saying they should remember that Indiana spent its summer huddled inside dark film rooms with fellow coaches, saying, 'Here 's how you stop Kentucky.' "
Next summer, Indiana might have a bit more time on its hands.
"People were saying stuff about us, like we were soft and everything like that," UK linebacker Jeff Snedegar said, "and we took that to heart."
The Cats rolled into Memorial Stadium yesterday with their season on the brink, and pulled out a much-needed 44-35 win over the favored Hoosiers.
"A lot of people didn't have much faith in us," Snedegar said. "This was crucial."
This was quarterback Dusty Bonner completing 24 of 31 passes for 304 yards and five touchdowns. This was Anthony White rushing for 130 yards on 26 carries. This was tight end James Whalen continuing his torrid start with a career-high 10 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. This was little Dougie Allen catching six passes for 74 yards and two scores.
This was the embattled Kentucky defense creating four turnovers, none bigger than Eric Kelly's interception with 2:46 left and UK clinging to a 6-point lead.
This was Kentucky improving to 2-1, via its fifth straight win over the Hoosiers, including three here in Bloomington.
"This gives us a little respect," Kelly said. "Other teams... didn't respect us. That's the most important thing."
Mumme said all week that his offense had something to prove after Indiana intercepted Tim Couch four times and made UK work for a 31-27 win last year.
"They'd been giving clinics all over the nation, at least that's what Coach Mumme said," fullback A.J. Simon said. "It didn't prove to be that good of a clinic today."
Kentucky gained 484 yards, 180 on the ground. In fact, for the first time in the Mumme era, the Cats had more rushing attempts than passing attempts by day's end - 46 to 31.
"Obviously there is no way we can make as many mistakes, I don't care who we are playing, and expect to win the football game," Indiana Coach Cam Cameron said. "We're just not in position to do that."
"We did a nice job of running the ball early," Mumme said. "Dusty checked us into some great runs. I thought Anthony White played well, and the offensive line, from the second quarter on, they played great."
From the second quarter on, the Cats controlled the scoreboard as well. An eight-play, 80-yard drive - highlighted by a 25-yard Bonner scramble - tied the score at 14-14 when Bonner hit freshman Brad Pyatt on a 19-yard post route.
On UK's next series, the Cats went 80 yards in seven plays, scoring when Bonner hit Whalen over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown and a 21-14 lead. "Outstanding play of the game," Mumme said. "Dusty checked at the line, did a tremendous job. It's not a play we use a lot. He saw it and picked up on it."
After a bad Indiana punt snap gave UK the ball at the Hoosiers' 23, it took UK just two plays to score. White carried for 6 yards, and then Bonner hit Allen for a 17-yard score and a 28-14 lead.
In the second half, Indiana played catch-up. The Hoosiers closed to 28-21 early in the third quarter, but could get no closer until Levron Williams took an Antwaan Randle El pass and went 34 yards for a score with 3:17 left, cutting the UK lead to 41-35.
Then, on the first play after an Indiana onsides kick attempt failed, UK's Derek Homer gave the ball right back , losing it on a fumble with 3:07 left.
Three plays later, Kelly broke in front of an IU receiver to intercept a Randle El pass and return it 23 yards.
"Biggest play I've ever made," Kelly said, "or it's got to be one of 'em."
Kelly's pick set up a 34-yard Marc Samuel field goal with 1:30 left to seal the victory.
"Today," safety Anthony Wajda said, "the score really doesn't indicate how bad we beat them."
Or how much the win meant to the Cats.
"We knew coming into this week that this was a game we needed to win," Bonner said.
Added Mumme: "This is such a young football team . I've said all along whatever we could do with them this year was something to build on. We're going to win an SEC championship. I don't know when, but I think we've got the building blocks for it right now."