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CATS FIND ANSWER: JUST SAY MOE

Date story was published: Sunday, September 24, 1995

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Georgia's Robert Edwards ran wild on opening day, ripping through a sieve-like South Carolina for 169 yards and four touchdowns. Big deal. Arkansas' Madre Hill gashed the Gamecocks the next week, gliding for 178 yards and five touchdowns. So what.

They're not worthy.

Not at all. Not after yesterday. Not after Moe the Magnificent, otherwise known as Kentucky tailback Moe Williams, carried the visiting Wildcats on his back and, in the rain and the mud yesterday at Williams-Brice Stadium, turned in a bona fide monster.

The junior rushed for 299 yards -- setting a personal, school and conference record -- caught a pass for 57 yards, returned four kickoffs for 73 yards and scored a school-record-tying four touchdowns as Kentucky, until last week the hapless losers of 12 straight games, won its second straight, outscoring South Carolina 35-30.

"Moe," UK Coach Bill Curry said, in total deadpan, "did pretty well.'

And Kentucky -- get this -- is now 2-2 overall, and 1-1 in the SEC.

"This shows we're a football team," quarterback Billy Jack Haskins said. " Some people thought last week (a 17-10 win over Indiana) was a fluke, but this shows we're going to be a team that can't be taken lightly."

Not any Moe, er, any more.

"I am disappointed for our team," said Gamecocks Coach Brad Scott, his squad now 1-3 overall, 0-3 in the SEC. "We had a lot of missed opportunities, and we don't get enough to overcome them. The defense has got to do a better job tackling."

True, coming into yesterday the knock on the Gamecocks was a defense that refused to tackle. In three games, Carolina had allowed an eye-popping 6.1 yards a rushing attempt.

"But I hadn't really paid much attention to that," Williams said. "I don't know if the coaches didn't want us to get a false sense of security or what, but the (film) cut-ups they gave us showed South Carolina stoning people."

And yet, offensive tackle Jonas Liening said, "We knew it was a good opportunity to explode on offense. And Moe just had an awesome game."

From start to finish. His fourth carry, a 20-yard sprint off left tackle, made it 7-0 Kentucky. His seventh carry, a 43-yard dash off right tackle, made it 14-0 Kentucky, just nine minutes into the contest.

"That was a boost," Curry said, "but then we de-boosted quickly."

First, as Curry said, "Billy Jack finally showed that he was human." Haskins threw an interception that gave South Carolina possession at midfield. "I never saw the guy," said Haskins of Gamecock linebacker Hank Campbell.

Then, after Carolina turned that turnover into a touchdown, Haskins kept on giving, fumbling away the football on his 8-yard line. A 5-yard pass from Steve Taneyhill to Zola Davis tied the score at 14 five minutes into the second quarter.

Six minutes later, however, came "probably the most significant thing that happened in the game," Curry said.

On a third-and-four from the Carolina 24, UK defensive tackle Mike Schlegel sacked Taneyhill for a 12-yard loss. A 36-yard punt put UK at the USC 48, and Haskins marched his team goalward, hitting Kio Sanford with a textbook, 26- yard, third-and-10 completion at the 2. Williams scored TD No. 3 and the Cats entered the half up 21-14, their first halftime lead since 1993.

"After the turnovers," Curry said, "that reminded us that if we take care of business, we could still roll."

Not that Carolina failed to show for the second half. From his 8-yard line, Taneyhill lobbed a pass to Stanley Pritchett on the right side, and the bulky back showed his speed, getting the step on a diving Donte Key and continuing 92 yards for the score. Reed Morton missed the extra point, but the lead was one, 21-20.

But yet again, UK (yes, UK) responded. Or Moe did. On the second play, he took a screen pass -- which was ruled a lateral -- and, thanks in part to a crushing block from Liening, ripped down the right sideline, 76 yards to the South Carolina 7-yard line. Three snaps later, he scored from the 10.

"We'd been practicing that play all week and I'd been screwing up all week," Liening said. "I kept missing the guy I was supposed to block. But this time, I didn't miss him."

"We've been working on that play since spring," said coordinator Elliot Uzelac, "and that's the first time we've gotten it right."

After a USC field goal, Taneyhill next pulled off a big play, finding Marcus Robinson for a 45-yard gain to the UK 9 early in the final quarter. But that just set the stage for Kentucky's biggest defensive play of the day, forcing Taneyhill to throw into the end zone and into the arms of UK strong safety George Harris.

That put Moe back on the field. And, as defensive coordinator Mike Archer said afterward, "I told the defense we're a heck of a lot better defense when we're over on the sideline watching Moe run."

He had one Moe big run left. Taking a dump-off from Haskins over the middle, Williams reeled 57 yards to the Carolina 7, setting up a 3-yard Haskins touchdown, making it 35-23.

Carolina scored again, as the scoreboard clock finally short-circuited beneath the now driving rain. But on their final possession, taking over with about 30 seconds remaining, Taneyhill hurled a desperation pass that UK's Van Hiles intercepted as the officials called it a day.

"That was one of the more interesting games I've ever been a part of," said Curry.

Call it Moe Williams Day.

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