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LSU BLOCKS WILDCATS' UPSET BID 15-12

Date story was published: Sunday, October 16, 1988

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Special teams foiled what could have been a special victory for the Kentucky Wildcats last night against 19th-ranked LSU.

The visiting Cats had one punt blocked and fumbled two other snaps, setting up all three LSU scores as the Tigers defeated Kentucky 15-12 before a crowd of 71,418 at Tiger Stadium.

LSU's Ron Sancho blocked a punt in the third quarter, setting up the Tigers' first score. Then in the final period, trying to protect a 12-7 lead, UK's snap to punter Jeff Nelson was high, and the kicker was forced to fall on the football at his own 13.

Three plays later, LSU quarterback Tom Hodson hit wide receiver Alvin Lee for a 10-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers the game-winner.

Kentucky's last chance came on a drive that started on the Wildcat 14 with 3:44 remaining. After two straight incompletions, a Fohr pass into coverage hit off UK wide receiver Ray Gover at the 25-yard line and fell incomplete. The next play, Nelson fumbled a good snap, picked up the ball in the end zone and was forced to run out of the back line for a safety.

The win improved LSU to 4-2 on the year and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky dropped to 2-4 and 0-3 in conference play. It was UK's fifth consecutive loss to the Tigers.

On the first play after LSU had taken its first lead of the game, UK quarterback Glenn Fohr connected with wide receiver John Bolden for a 70-yard touchdown. A run for the two-point conversion failed, but UK led 12-7.

LSU went ahead 7-6 thanks to a blocked punt by Sancho, the Tigers' All-SEC linebacker. It was the fourth punt UK has had blocked this year. The Tigers recovered at the Kentucky 9. The first play, tailback Eddie Fuller went up the middle for the score.

The blocked punt came just one play after UK had inadvertently blocked its own quick kick. Fohr had left the game, holding his arm. In came reserve quarterback Chuck Broughton, who tried a quick kick. The ball, however, hit tailback Ivy Joe Hunter in the back. Broughton, luckily, caught the kick. Thus, UK kept possession. But Sancho then blocked Nelson's kick.

Kentucky led 6-0 at halftime, thanks to a stellar performance by the Wildcat defense.

UK defenders forced three LSU turnovers the first half. The Cats intercepted Hodson twice. Defensive end Tony Zigman, a reserve, made the first theft. Linebacker Chris Chenault made the second.

But the first Tiger turnover was a fumble on the home team's initial drive. UK tackle Oliver Barnett caused LSU fullback Victor Jones to lose the ball at his own 41-yard line. Kentucky defensive end Tony Massey recovered.

The Cats started the drive in good fashion, Fohr hitting Hunter for an 11- yard gain. But the LSU defense stuffed the visitors, forcing UK to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Ken Willis.

Next drive, the Tigers turned it over again. Barnett was partly to blame (or credit). The junior broke up a Hodson pass, then sacked the LSU quarterback. On third down, UK's Zigman intercepted a pass at the LSU 37, intended for wide receiver Alvin Lee.

But again the Kentucky offense couldn't cash in with the big prize. After picking up one first down, Fohr was sacked on a third-and-five situation. Willis kicked a 44-yard field goal, the longest of his career, and UK led 6-0 with 5:22 left in the first quarter.

LSU's third turnover stopped the Tigers' first decent drive of the night. Mickey Guidry, the Tigers' backup quarterback, replaced Hodson for one series. But upon Hodson's return, the junior drove LSU from its own 14 to the Kentucky 42. But on second-and-four, Hodson's throw for Fuller was intercepted by Chenault at the UK 22.

On their final drive of the first half, the Tigers marched from their own 25 to the UK 25. Progress ended there. First came a holding penalty. Next came Barnett, again, sacking Hodson for a 7-yard loss.

The Wildcats did go through a hairy stretch at the end of the half. LSU punter Rene Bourgeois' kick stopped at the UK 1. The clock malfunctioned, causing the referees to keep the time on the field. Three running plays gained 2 yards. On fourth down, from their own 3, Cat coach Jerry Claiborne elected to have Broughton sit on the ball and run out the clock.

Broughton replaced Fohr midway through the second quarter after the latter missed on four straight passes. Broughton proceeded to miss on two.

LSU had 140 yards total offense the first half, compared with 77 for Kentucky. But the Tigers gained only 46 yards on the ground on 23 carries. UK gained just 39 yards on 18 carries. Hunter was the Cats' leading gainer, picking up 17 yards on four carries.

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