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BILLY JACK, SACKS STOP SKID AT 12

Date story was published: Sunday, September 17, 1995

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Hey, Roadkill, come on down.

The coast is clear. Stop those opportunistic publicity stunts, toss those charts detailing historic losing streaks, scrap those jokes about how getting your seats upgraded in Kentucky football means moving five rows closer to the exit. It's over.

"When you lose 12 straight games," UK defensive back Steven Hall said, "you're going to be the butt of a lot of jokes."

Only they are losers no more.

Hey, Roadkill, come on down.

Kentucky 17, Indiana 10.

"Just another routine win, basically," cracked Cat Coach Bill Curry.

No, this was everything but routine, the Cats (1-2) snapping the nation's longest losing streak by winning for the first time since Sept. 3, 1994, overcoming an early 10-0 deficit to upset Indiana (1-1) at Memorial Stadium.

Billy Jack Haskins, making his first career start at quarterback, raced 42 yards for a touchdown on an option play to put the Cats up 14-10 with 11:10 left. Brian Sivinski nailed a career-long 49-yard field goal with 7:32 remaining. And time after time the Cat defense -- ransacked for 59 points and 650 total yards in this game a year ago -- made play after play, holding Indiana to a shocking 152 total yards, the lowest amount allowed by a Curry defense at UK.

"To say the least, it was a very disappointing loss," IU Coach Bill Mallory said.

Because it came against the same Kentucky that had lost 24-8 to the Hoosiers here in '93, then 59-29 a year ago in Lexington. It came against the same UK that had one Lexington disc jockey, Roadkill Kessler, living atop a tower on Nicholasville Road, vowing not to descend until the Cats tasted victory again.

After a 13-10 season-opening loss to Louisville, and a 42-7 thumping by Florida, it appeared Roadkill might be living above the road for quite some time.

"But coach did a great job keeping our morale up," Hall said. "He believed in us. And our fans, just look at how many people we had here (yesterday) believed in us. The only people who didn't believe in us was us."

Maybe they had ample reason not to, especially early yesterday. First two Indiana possessions produced Indiana scores. Bill Manolopoulos kicked a 42- yard field goal. Tailback Alex Smith, who ripped the Cats for 221 yards a year ago, rolled 19 yards for a touchdown. It was 10-0 Big Red with less than 10 minutes having ticked off the clock.

"But I started feeling things that made me feel a whole lot better about the game," Curry said. "There was an intensity there."

There were some breaks. Good breaks. Taking over on their 2-yard line late in the first quarter, the Cats benefited from a pair of Hoosier misdeeds. First, with UK punting from its 31, IU ran into the kicker, giving the visitors a first down. Five plays later, on what would have been a third-and- five, the Hoosiers committed a late personal-foul penalty, putting the ball on the 24. Haskins hit O'Ferral with an 18-yard pass. Moe Williams scored from the 1.

"We knew we could move the ball on these guys," said Haskins, who did not find out he was going to start until just before kickoff. "When we did it that time, it really gave us some confidence."

Confidence the Cat defense apparently picked up on. After Indiana's first two scoring drives, the Hoosiers gave up the football eight times by punt, three times by fumble, and once on downs. Never in the second half did the Hoosiers snap the football in Kentucky territory.

"It just wasn't a very well played football game," groused Mallory.

Quarterback Chris Dittoe completed just seven of 23 passes for 59 yards. The 6-foot-6 junior had six passes either tipped or knocked down at the line of scrimmage. He was officially sacked five times.

"Our front four just did a great job," linebacker David Snardon said. "They were just all over him the whole game."

There was one tiny detail left for victory, however. The Cats had to score. The offense managed just 88 total yards the first half, continually victimized by Hoosier blitzes.

"But Coach (Elliot) Uzelac made an adjustment at halftime," Haskins said. "We went more to the option and he gave us some different blocking schemes."

"They changed and went to an eight-man front and we had to adjust to that," said Uzelac, who spent 1990 on Mallory's staff at IU. "We made some changes and the guys did a good job of adjusting to them. Most of the time. But this is all new to them."

Taking the lead was certainly new. But after another IU penalty -- 15 yards again for a late hit -- Haskins took off on an option to the left side, turned the corner, looked up "and nobody was there," he said, and he raced 42 yards to a 14-10 lead.

"You live by the blitz, you can be burned by the blitz," Curry said.

Four minutes later, UK defensive end Kurt Supe knocked the ball from Dittoe, and fellow end Chris Ward recovered at the IU 37. Sivinski's 49-yard field goal increased the lead to a touchdown.

Indiana got the ball twice more after that. First, on fourth-and-two from the 48, the Hoosiers jumped offsides. Punt. Their last chance started at the 27 with 1:33 left, but Dittoe was sacked not once, not twice, but three straight times.

Ball game. Winning ball game.

"Wild and crazy and happy," said freshman receiver Craig Yeast of the post- game locker room, in which the team sang the school fight song before Curry even had a chance to get inside. "I made them sing it again," Curry said.

"You win one game and it changes the whole season," said tailback Moe Williams, who carried the football a school-record 35 times and gained 120 yards. "People are already talking about Monday's practice."

"All I know is that this is a great feeling," Haskins said. "We want to feel this again."

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