Date story was published: Friday, September 24, 1993
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The same Wildcat who guaranteed a victory for his much-maligned team backed up his brash words last night. Randy Wyatt raced 64 yards to a fourth-quarter touchdown that got Kentucky back in a game it seemed destined to lose.
"After Randy Wyatt scored the touchdown everything just shifted," quarterback Antonio O'Ferral said.
From there, Wyatt's fellow Cats, especially strong safety Marcus Jenkins, did the rest as UK rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to shock South Carolina 21-17 in Williams-Brice Stadium and before a national TV audience.
Wyatt's dramatic early fourth-quarter dash off an O'Ferral option pitch cut the seemingly comfortable South Carolina lead to 17-14. UK then marched 81 hard-nosed yards -- 24 on an O'Ferral keeper to the 1 -- with Michael Woodfork scoring to put the Cats ahead 21-17 with 4:55 left.
After that, Kentucky survived not one but two Gamecock marches, both ending with Jenkins securing the football. On the first, linebacker Darryl Conn stripped Carolina tailback Brandon Bennett, and Jenkins recovered the fumble at the UK 41. On the second, with visions of the last-second Florida loss of 12 days ago fresh in the Cats' minds, Carolina drove from its own 10 to the Wildcats' 15 before Jenkins intercepted a Steve Taneyhill pass in the end zone with 2:13 remaining.
"It was a weakside roll, and I rolled right into it," said Jenkins, who made his fourth interception of the season. "He zeroed in on the receiver, and I could see it coming. He thought I was in one look, and I was in another."
Taneyhill said, "I just didn't see the guy on the back side. I made a bad read and lost the game."
South Carolina dropped to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference.
"Tonight on the pitch, the guy cracked the free safety, and as a result they were able to block two guys," said Carolina Coach Sparky Woods. "They gave us a lot of problems defensively."
Kentucky, in improving to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the SEC, looked little like the team that suffered a dispiriting 24-8 loss to Indiana five days ago.
"It's a big, big win for us to come over here and win in this stadium," said head coach Bill Curry, whose club won for just the second time in 17 tries on the road. "There were so many aspects of last Saturday's game that were impossible to talk about, that were reasons for our performance, that sounded like excuses, so we didn't talk about them. We just worked. The men worked. We worked with great intent all this week, and we went out and performed."
Among the performers was O'Ferral, making his first collegiate start subbing for Pookie Jones, who was out with an ankle injury. And Wyatt moved back to tailback after freshman sensation Mo Williams injured his ankle at IU. And Conn, a linebacker making his first start, made the crucial strip of Bennett.
"We have a good rushing attack when we execute it," Curry said. "When our quarterback is crippled it's hard to run it."
But O'Ferral ran it well, completing 10 of 19 passes for 97 yards and rushing for 56 yards on 17 attempts. More important, the sophomore made several key last-minute option pitches that produced big plays.
"The last three outings had not been what we wanted on offense," O'Ferral said. "Tonight we came out and set the pace right from the start. We started out passing on first down, which this team doesn't do. We got things going."
And yet, until Wyatt's turnaround run, the Cats appeared to be headed for their third straight defeat, and yet another road loss.
The game tied 7-7 at the half, South Carolina appeared to take control in the third quarter with a ram-tough, rock-hard 75-yard drive in nine running plays. Brandon Bennett scored a 1-yard touchdown, vaulting into the end zone for a 14-7 Gamecocks lead with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
A Reed Morton 25-yard field goal gave Carolina a 17-7 lead with 12:59 remaining in the game.
But then came Wyatt's run, on a perfect pitch from O'Ferral. "O'Ferral made a great read, and I saw the pitch, and then I saw the end zone," said Wyatt, who scooted down the right sideline for the touchdown. "There wasn't anybody out there to stop me."
Indeed, it had been Wyatt who immediately after the Indiana debacle predicted a UK victory over the Gamecocks, who were an 11-point favorite. "We had a great game plan tonight against their defense," said the junior who transferred to UK from Louisville. "We were really focused on execution and making big plays."
The Cats made a ton, especially on defense down the stretch. After the go- ahead score, and after Jenkins recovered the ensuing fumble, South Carolina got another chance, taking over on its own 10 with 3:16 remaining.
Taneyhill threw 21 yards to Michael Reddick, then 36 yards to Chris Alford. After an 11-yard run by Stanley Pritchett took the ball to the 15, Taneyhill overthrew Toby Cates in the end zone, then was picked off by Jenkins.
"We're back on track," Wyatt said. "Now we've got to stay on track."