Date story was published: Sunday, September 4, 1994
There's a coach's adage that a football player plays 50 or 60 plays just for the privilege of making two or three that win a game.
Last night, in Game One, Cats-Cards I, before a record and raucous "college" football crowd, Donte Key, Antonio O'Ferral, Damon Hood and their gritty cast of Wildcats made those plays, taking Kentucky to a 20-14 victory against Louisville in the first game played between the two schools in 70 years.
"The guts and the grit of our team is the real story," an emotional UK Coach Bill Curry said after awarding game balls to the families of Ted Presley, Trent DiGiuro and Troy Trumbo, three UK athletes who have died in the last 17 months. "I'm just so proud of our team."
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Key, a junior linebacker from Franklin-Simpson High School who was not 100 percent sure he would play last night, caused a fourth-quarter fumble that set up UK's winning score, then stopped U of L's final drive with an interception with 19 seconds remaining.
With the game tied 14-14, Key stripped Louisville tailback Calvin Arrington and UK middle linebacker Mike Schellenberger fell on the loose football at the U of L 33 yard line with 3:18 remaining.
Seven plays later, O'Ferral, the junior quarterback subbing for injured starter Jeff Speedy, went 4 yards with 3:18 left for what would be the winning touchdown.
Only no one was sure of that at the time. Taking over on his team's 27 yard line, Louisville quarterback Marty Lowe marched the Cardinals to a first down at the UK 19 with about 30 seconds remaining. But on the next play, Lowe overthrew his intended receiver, hitting Key perfectly at the 11-yard line.
"The defense had to make big plays," said Key, who had injured his ankle Tuesday and didn't even practice Wednesday. "We knew that that was our job to make the plays."
"The two interceptions and two missed field goals were the back breakers," said Louisville Coach Howard Schnellenberger, whose kicker, David Akers, missed field goals from 34 and 22 yards.
"We had to do it on defense, and we did it," said free safety Melvin Johnson, who had the other UK interception.
More so last night than ever. Speedy, the sophomore from Nashville, lasted just more than a quarter before he suffered a separated shoulder and was forced to leave the game with about 10 minutes left in the first half and the game tied 7-7.
In came O'Ferral, who struggled mightily, as did the rest of the UK offense -- tailback Moe Williams managed just 52 yards on 17 carries. Only fullback Damon Hood, who had a career-high 108 yards on 13 attempts, was productive.
But finally, just 58 seconds before the end of the third quarter, O'Ferral hit Clyde Rudolph with a 64-yard touchdown pass, tying the game 14-14.
"He just pitches it over here and pitches it over there and throws it down yonder," Curry said. "And then all of a sudden he throws a touchdown pass. All he does is find a way to win."
Louisville had gone ahead 14-7 by marching 97 yards in 12 plays with Arrington going 6 yards for the score, putting the Cards ahead by a touchdown with 1:51 left in the third.
But O'Ferral came right back and found Rudolph, the swift senior wideout who had gotten behind Cardinal free safety Rico Clark. Rudolph caught the ball at the 38, tiptoed the sideline, then scampered in for the score.
"I was just excited they put the ball in my hands in that situation," said O'Ferral, who was sporting a "Game Won" T-shirt.
Kentucky scored first, driving 85 yards in 11 players, with Williams punching it over from 3 yards out. Speedy made two key plays on the march. First, he went 25 yards on a nice option run to the U of L 39. Four plays later, the quarterback lofted a 26-yard pass to wide-out Leon Smith, who grabbed the ball at the 6. Two plays later, Williams scored.
But Louisville marched right back. Lowe drove the Cardinals 77 yards in 10 plays. The Card quarterback hit Asher with a 21-yard pass early in the possession. Two plays later, the march was helped along when UK linebacker Key was called for spearing, tacking on 15 yards to the Kentucky 33-yard line.
Anthony Shelman, the U of L tailback who gained 123 yards on 25 bruising carries, ran 11 yards to the 22. Four plays later, Shelman scored from a yard out. David Akers' extra point tied it at 7-7 with 10:31 left in the quarter.
The next play from scrimmage, Speedy went down. He was 3-for-4 from the air for 37 yards and owned 32 yards rushing on three carries at that point.
In came backup O'Ferral. In three possessions with the junior at the helm, UK punted, lost a fumble (O'Ferral when hit on a scramble) and punted again.
Louisville's Terry Quinn recovered the O'Ferral fumble -- caused by defensive end Kendall Brown -- at the UK 39 with 6:27 left in the half. And the Cards moved to a first down at the 16.
But the Kentucky defense held, forcing Akers to try a 34-yard field goal. The left-footed Tates Creek product hooked the kick wide right, leaving the score tied 7-7.