Date story was published: Sunday, October 3, 1993
It was the Ole Miss Rebels who came to Commonwealth Stadium last night off a pair of impressive Southeastern Conference victories, boasting the nation's second-ranked defense, a big-play offense and a mastery of Bill Curry's Kentucky teams that stretched over the last three seasons.
And Ole Miss departed with a zero on the scoreboard.
Only it was the Rebels who were blanked.
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Yes, it was Kentucky that totally turned the tables, dominating the first half, then sealing the win with a solid second half, all in a stunning 21-0 blanking of the 25th-rated (according to USA Today/CNN) Rebels before a wet but happy crowd of 57,075.
Quarterback Pookie Jones, returning to the starting lineup after a one-game absence, engineered three, long, in-your-face, ball-control first-half drives for 13 points against the vaunted Rebel defense, then hit Mark Chatmon with a 33-yard touchdown pass with 3:12 left as UK pulled off its second consecutive SEC upset.
"I am extremely proud of our football team," said Curry. "We've been working and working and plugging and demanding four quarters of our best football for the past three and a half years, and now the men know how it feels. That's what we did tonight."
The Cats controlled the football for 37:24, ran 74 plays to the visitors' 48 and recorded their first shutout of an SEC team since beating Georgia 33-0 in 1977.
"We wanted to eliminate the big play," said UK defensive coordinator Mike Archer. "We wanted to keep them snapping the football and not let them have the big play. The biggest thing I think was we had just 17 snaps in the first half. Our offense was our best defense tonight."
Coming off a 21-17 win over South Carolina nine days ago, Kentucky improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference. Ole Miss, coming off impressive wins over Vanderbilt and Georgia, dropped to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the league.
In fact, the Rebel defense limited Vanderbilt's option attack to just 51 yards on 50 plays, and behind eight quarterback sacks allowed only 1 yard net rushing in the rout of Georgia last Saturday.
But the Kentucky offense, an erratic entity thus far, made the Rebels eat their own press clippings. Behind the adroit play-calling of offensive boss Daryl Dickey, UK outgained the Rebels 330-201. One stat alone told the first half story: Kentucky ran 43 offensive plays, Ole Miss 16.
In fact, UK outgained the Rebels 214-64 in the first two periods, keeping the ball for 21:46 to 8:14. Wingback Alfonzo Browning caught three passes for 59 yards and carried the ball three times for 38 yards. Jones completed eight of 16 passes for 111 yards.
On the game's first possession, Kentucky set the tone for the night. UK drove the football for 21 grueling plays, marching from its own 12 to the Ole Miss 11-yard line for a 28-yard field goal for Juha Leonoff for a 3-0 lead.
UK's second possession, the Cats marched 68 yards on nine plays for a touchdown. Second play of the drive, Jones hit Browning, who made a wonderful adjustment while the ball was in the air, for a 38-yard gain. On fourth-and-1 from the Rebel 6, UK coaxed the visitors into jumping offsides. Two snaps later, Moe Williams scored from 3 yards out for a 10-0 Kentucky lead.
UK's third possession, the Cats drove 69 yards in 14 plays for another Leonoff field goal. Browning had a 23-yard run in the march. And Browning even scored a touchdown, grabbing a 14-yard pass from Jones and taking it into the end zone. But the play was called back when tight end Corey Reeves was called for an illegal pick. Still, Leonoff's 20-yard field goal gave the Cats a 13-0 lead with 5:27 remaining before halftime.
In fact, UK did not punt the football until 10:54 was left in the third quarter.
Mississippi's offense, meanwhile, was totally ineffective against the UK defense. The Rebels deepest penetration was the Wildcat 32-yard line in the third quarter. But on fourth-and-10, quarterback Paul Head's pass to Eddie Small gained just 9 yards.
Head replaced Ole Miss' starting quarterback, Lawrence Adams, who left the game with a sore shoulder. Adams was intercepted once, Head twice.
"This is the best Kentucky team that we've played since I have been at Ole Miss," said Rebel Coach Billy Brewer. "They executed better than any team we've played in awhile. It wasn't that we did not execute, but that Kentucky played well."