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CATS WASTE 10-0 LEAD, SUFFER 5TH STRAIGHT DEFEAT

Date story was published: Sunday, October 16, 1994

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Adding another footnote to an increasingly dreadful season, Kentucky sealed its worst start in 12 years, losing 17-13 to LSU last night at Tiger Stadium.

Eddie Kennison, LSU's outrageously talented wide receiver, leaped just high enough in the end zone over blanket coverage from UK corner Steven Hall to make a 34-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Melvin Hill with 8:18 left in the third quarter, breaking a 10-10 halftime tie.

"Eddie Kennison is going to make a difference in every game he's going to play in for the next 15 years probably," said UK Coach Bill Curry.

And Curley Hallman's Tigers made the catch stand up, breaking a three-game losing streak and improving to 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the SEC. "It's been awhile since we've won one, so I'm very happy," said Hallman, whose been on the Bayou hot seat.

Kentucky fell to 1-5 overall, its worst start since Jerry Claiborne's debut edition went 0-10-1 in 1982. The current Cats are 0-4 in the SEC.

"I thought our defense played well enough to win," UK quarterback Jeff Speedy said, "but the offense didn't get it done."

Indeed, the Cat defense, previously the bug on college football's windshield, held LSU to 241 total yards, only 107 of them on the ground -- nearly 100 yards less than UK's previous best against the run, the 206 allowed South Carolina.

But the UK offense managed just 218 yards. Speedy, making his first start since the season-opening win over Louisville, looked like a quarterback making his first start in five games, completing nine of 24 passes for 64 yards, with one interception.

"I made some mistakes that cost us drives," said the sophomore.

UK had one second-half chance to at least pull even, or go ahead, when sophomore Moe Williams ripped off a 44-yard run to the LSU 26 with just less than 10 minutes remaining. Then on a third-and-six from the 22, Clyde Rudolph took a reverse 7 yards to a first down at the 15.

But one play later, defensive end Gabe Northern sacked Speedy for an 8-yard loss. An incompletion later, Brian Sivinski kicked a 40-yard field goal, pulling the Cats within four points, 17-13, with 6:13 left.

"I thought we'd get the ball back and go right down and score," Curry said. "Unfortunately, that did not happen."

His team did get one more crack, taking over at its 20 with 2:12 left. But Speedy was sacked by David Carmona on first down. A pass to Michael Woodfork lost 2 yards on second down. Then on third down, Speedy's pass was picked off by LSU linebacker Kimojha Brooks at the UK 26 with 1:02 remaining.

Ball game.

"With what our team has endured, you'd have to study closely to see how much improvement we've made in the last two weeks," Curry said. "I'm not whistling a happy tune, but I'm not discouraged either."

LSU pulled off the win despite having its starting quarterback, Jamie Howard, practically booed out of the game after a poor start; despite being penalized 12 times for 100 yards; and despite averaging less than 3 yards a carry against a defense that ranks last in the nation in stopping the run.

Hill, a true freshman, replaced the embattled Howard with UK up 10-0 in the second quarter and directed the Tigers to the victory, hitting Brett Bech for one score, then Kennison for the winning touchdown.

"As the change went along, Melvin was playing well," Hallman said. "Things looked like they were smooth flowing, so we stayed with him."

Howard was hardly smooth; his 13th interception of the season led to UK's first score. Cat cornerback Steven Hall picked off a Howard throw -- Kentucky's first interception since the season-opener -- at the LSU 39.

Speedy then hit Leon Smith for a 35-yard gain to the Tiger 26. But the drive stalled at the 15, forcing Sivinski to kick a 32-yard field goal for a 3-0 UK lead.

The Cats had a chance to extend the advantage on the next possession, but Sivinski missed a 46-yard field goal. Finally, on their third trip inside the LSU 30-yard line, the Cats finally found the end zone, Williams scoring from 3 yards out. Sivinski's extra point made it 10-zip Cats, UK's largest lead of the season, with 11:46 left until halftime.

But then in came Hill, to the wild cheers of Tiger fans who had spent the first 30 minutes booing Howard's errant tosses. Hill hit Bech for a 23-yard pass that set up a 39-yard Andre Lafleur field goal. Later, he hit Bech for a score, tying the game at 10-10 at the half.

Then, in the third quarter, he delivered the knockout, hitting Kennison.

"It was just a great catch," said UK's Hall. "I thought I tipped it, but I guess I didn't tip it enough."

And if the Cats made improvement last night, on the way to their worst start in more than a decade, it wasn't improvement enough.

"I guess," said Speedy, when asked if the Cats did improve. "But I don't think you would say this was a step forward."

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