Date story was published||| Sunday, October 19, 1997
It was just your average, run-of-the-mill Tim Couch passing performance,the Kentucky quarterback throwing for six touchdowns and a school-record 428yards.
It was just your average, run-of-the-mill Craig Yeast receivingperformance, the junior catching seven passes for a career-high 130 yards, twofor scorching scores, on the path to breaking a pair of school marks.
It was just your average, run-of-the-mill Kentucky offensive performance,with Lance Mickelsen catching three touchdown passes, and the unit rolling up586 total yards, the second-highest figure in school history.
It was just your average, run-of-the-mill Kentucky rout, the Cats rippingNortheast Louisiana 49-14 for homecoming last night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Then again, only the feel was run-of-the-mill. There is no such thing (orthere wasn't) as your average Kentucky rout.
"It feels real good to exorcise another demon around here," said head coachHal Mumme.
Indeed, the last time Northeast Louisiana traveled to Lexington, theIndians added salt to the gaping wound that was Kentucky's 1-10 season in1994, pulling off a 21-14 victory.
A lot has changed in three years - or even a year, for that matter. Thistime the Cats entered last night as a rare 25-point favorite. And Mumme's clubdid exactly what it was supposed to do, ringing up its largest margin ofvictory since beating Kent 35-0 back in 1993.
Couch completed 23 of 26 passes for 293 yards in the first half alone. Atone stretch, the Heisman Trophy candidate completed a school-record 12consecutive passes, the 12th coming when under a heavy Indian rush. Couchthrew left-handed to true freshman running back Derek Homer, who turned itinto an 8-yard gain.
"We work on that," joked Mumme. "We coach that."
By night's end, the sophomore had completed 34 of 43 passes with oneinterception. His 428 yards eclipsed his own school record of 398 passingyards against Louisville in the season opener. His six touchdowns missed byone of tying the school record he set on Sept. 20 when he fired seven scoringstrikes in a rout of Indiana.
Said Northeast running back Marquis Williams, who rushed for 54 yards on 15carries, "The only word I can say is, 'Couch.' "
Or Yeast. The junior from Harrodsburg ran his season reception total to 48,eclipsing the record of 47 set by Neal Clark in 1991. Yeast also became theschool's all-time leading receiver, his 98 career catches surpassing TomHutchinson's total of 94.
"Craig may be the best player in the conference right now," said Mumme.
Kentucky, meanwhile, ran its record to 4-3 overall, before the Cats returnto conference play next Saturday at Georgia, which beat Northeast 42-3 earlierthis season.
"I was proud of the guys and the way they played after that bitter defeatlast week at South Carolina," said Mumme of the 38-24 loss in Columbia thatcame a week after the Cats had upset then-No. 20 Alabama. "I thought we lookedmore athletic on defense tonight. We put the stops on them early in the gamewhen we needed to. And I thought the offense played well."
"We went out and executed from the get-go," said Couch, who was critical ofhis own play at South Carolina. "And we just kind of kept it up the wholegame."
Indeed, the Cats wasted no time getting started. For the fourth time thisseason, Mumme's script accounted for a touchdown on UK's first possession. A35-yard kickoff return from Yeast gave the Cats a start at the Northeast45-yard line. Seven plays later, Couch sneaked in from the 1-yard line.
Fifth play of the second possession, Couch hit Yeast with a short screenpass left. Yeast made a move, got blocks from wide receiver Marvin Love andoffensive guard Mike Webster, and streaked 38 yards for a 14-0 UK lead.
Third possession, Couch completed passes of 20 yards to Yeast, 26 yards toKevin Coleman and 15 yards for a touchdown to Jimmy Robinson, making it 21-0.
In the second quarter, Kentucky faced a third-and-37 from its own 27, andsimply completed a 32-yard pass to Micklesen. On fourth-and-five, Couch threweight yards over the middle to Anthony White for a first down at the Northeast33. Two snaps later, Couch threw a perfect 33-yard strike to Mickelsen for a28-0 lead.
Northeast got on the board with a 56-yard drive. Freshman quarterbackDaniel Jeremiah traveled 11 yards for the score. But Kentucky answered whenCouch hit Mickelsen for an 18-yard score just 51 seconds before the half,making it 35-7.
The Cats extended the count to 42-7 on their first possession of the secondhalf. Third play, Couch hit Kevin Coleman for 26 yards. Fourth play, Couch hitYeast on another screen, and Yeast did the rest, going 31 yards for atouchdown.
Finally, after Northeast got its second touchdown, Couch and Mickelsencaught the Northeast secondary biting on a hitch play and connected on a41-yard touchdown, making it 49-14 with 12:28 left, and giving the signal tobackup Dusty Bonner.
"I thought the kids played real well," said defensive coordinator MikeMajor, whose unit had been criticized for giving up 31 of the 38 points lastweek. "The first drive that they scored on they got a big kickoff return. Andthe second drive, they got us in an all-out blitz and we missed the coverage.We held them to 218 yards and that's good."
"We played well," said end Bamidele Ali, who ran his SEC-leading sack totalto seven. "But we've got a big game next week at Georgia. This needs to beshort-lived. We need to get back to work very soon."