Date story was published: Sunday, October 23, 1994
Kentucky may be 1-6, and winless in the SEC, but in at least one respect the Cats are making progress. Gone are those early-season, eye-popping blowouts. Now it's back to the more traditional mode of UK football defeat.
Rallying from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit, Bill Curry's Cats tantalizingly took the lead with 6:30 remaining on a 61-yard interception return by Van Hiles, only to see Georgia's star quarterback, Eric Zeier, come right back and march his Bulldogs to a 34-30 win at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Heisman Trophy candidate skillfully moved his Dawgs 66 yards in just five plays, hitting Hason Graham for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 4:08 remaining to send Kentucky to its sixth straight defeat.
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The Cats did have one last chance at victory, moving (though not exactly swiftly) to the Georgia 25-yard line with less than a minute to play. But a shotgun snap over quarterback Jeff Speedy's head, coupled with a holding penalty, moved the ball back to the 46. Two plays later, Dawg cornerback Carlos Yancy intercepted Speedy with 13 seconds left to seal it.
"It's a very short story," said Curry afterward. "We fought our hearts out, but we made enough mistakes to make it impossible for us to win the game."
Thus the Cats remain winless in the SEC at 0-5, adding weekly to their worst start since 1982. Georgia, meanwhile, bounced back from its 43-30 home loss to Vanderbilt last week, improving to 5-3 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
They did so thanks to Zeier, the senior who completed 36 of 51 passes for 420 yards. He was intercepted twice, but he tossed two touchdowns, both to Graham, a senior from Decatur, Ga., who pulled down 10 balls for 157 yards.
"It was nice to win one like this, so we could show that we are capable of coming from behind," Zeier said.
"(Zeier) is just a phenomenal talent," Curry said. "I've coached against him for the last time, and I'm delighted."
In fact, Zeier and his Bulldogs appeared to have matters well in hand in the second half, scoring twice in a six-minute span to take a 27-16 lead.
After Brian Sivinski's 27-yard field goal put UK up 16-13 midway through the third quarter, Zeier connected on five straight passes, sparking a 65-yard march that ended with tailback Terrell Davis scoring from a yard out to put Georgia up 20-16 with 3:33 remaining in the period.
Early in the fourth quarter, Zeier found Graham for a 55-yard TD bomb to extend the Bulldog lead to 11 points with 12:44 left.
But suddenly Ray Goff's team acted as if intent on blowing the win. First, Davis fumbled on his 5-yard line. UK linebacker Chad Hudson caused it; Eric Wright recovered it. Michael Woodfork scored from a yard out. The two-point conversion try failed, and the Georgia lead was 27-22 with 9:20 remaining.
Next series, the Bulldogs were called twice for holding, and overcame both for first downs. But then Zeier, flushed out of the pocket by a good rush, made a rare bad throw. A very bad throw, right into the arms of Hiles, the sophomore cornerback, who found a seam and sprinted 61 yards for the touchdown.
"We were in two-deep coverage and he rolled out and we rolled it up to three-deep," Hiles said. "Our defensive line rushed him real well, and he threw it up and I was just there to take it."
This time Kio Sanford took a reverse into the end zone for the two-point conversion, making it 30-27 with 6:30 remaining. Plenty of time.
Especially for Zeier. After yet another holding penalty, he hit Jeff Thomas for 20 yards, then Davis for 17 yards, then Graham for 28 yards and the score.
"He's just a great quarterback," said Hiles. "He read our coverages and he knew where to throw it."
And at the end, much the same as in its final drive in last year's 33-28 loss at Georgia, UK did not exactly master time management, using more than three minutes to run four plays, before finally turning over the ball.
"That was the first time that Jeff has been in that situation," Curry said. "We practice it every week, as you know. But it's not the same in the game with all that blur going on. On the other hand, we weren't trying to get it in in a minute-and-a-half either. You don't want to give them that much time."
The loss ruined an excellent performance from UK tailback Moe Williams, who rushed for 147 yards on 25 carries, including a 55-yard touchdown run on the Cats' first series.
UK's no-huddle attack yielded a season-high 425 yards on the night. Williams had 109 yards on 14 carries in the first half alone.
"We played better," Speedy said. "But we still lacked execution at times. I did a poor job in the two-minute drill at the end, made a mental mistake that hurt us."
"There was an awful lot of great effort out there," Curry said. "But we've got to learn to execute in the clutch. I'm tired of saying that, and I'm sure you're tired of hearing it."