Date story was published: Sunday, September 18, 1983
Yesterday's Kentucky-Indiana football game was started an hour early to accommodate television, but somebody must have forgotten to tell the home team.
Kentucky dawdled until about 1:30, the usual afternoon kickoff time at Commonwealth Stadium, then made the wait worth it by pulling the plug on Indiana 24-13.
From the CBS-requested 12:37 p.m. kickoff until early in the second quarter, the memory of last year's winless season reared its ugly head. Randy Jenkins threw an interception on the game's second play from scrimmage. The Wildcats fell behind 3-0 in the first four minutes and would have been down 6-0 had a 50-yard field goal attempt into the wind not bounced off the crossbar.
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Worse, UK had no first downs and what life the Wildcats showed was stifled by seven first-quarter penalties, pushing the effort 70 yards to the rear.
UK's only bright spot of the quarter was a punt, a school-record 80-yard effort by Paul Calhoun.
Even the officiating crew couldn't get in sync. With Indiana facing a fourth-and-one at the UK 31-yard line on its first possession, the Wildcats called for timeout and heard it whistled by the back judge. Apparently, no other official heard the call and tailback Bobby Howard broke free on a 9-yard run. Incensed, UK's players and coaches called another timeout and demanded that their first timeout be recognized and Howard's run nullified.
"I had to get another referee to ask him (the back judge) if he blew his whistle," UK Coach Jerry Claiborne said. "That's what made me mad."
Then, seemingly, the clock neared 1:30 and all was right in the world. UK got its initial first down with 13:19 remaining in the second quarter, but, maybe more importantly, at 1:27 p.m.
Five football and seven real minutes later the Cats got on the board when Chris Candell kicked a 27-yard field goal. The rest went pretty much as it has the first two weeks of this season, which is to say nothing at all like it did in 1982. UK won its third straight, inching closer to school records for early season victories one year after becoming the only winless team in Wildcat football history.
"The first quarter could have been a disaster," Claiborne said. (Besides setting up Indiana's first field goal with an interception, the Wildcats also fumbled a snap in the second quarter, giving the Hoosiers another three-pointer.) "We're getting where we don't fold our tents when something goes wrong. We're trying even harder."
That kind of attitude helped Kentucky shrug off a 6-3 halftime deficit and win going away. Perhaps not since the Allies trailed at Dunkirk has a team rebounded so confidently. "Coach (John) Devlin came in at halftime and said they had gotten all the breaks and had six points to show for it," cornerback Gordon Johnson said. "We knew we were going to win before we went back on the field."
UK wore down the tiring giants along Indiana's front lines and came up with the big plays. The Hoosiers ripped off 4- and 5-yard runs. Later, no fewer than four IU offensive linemen had to leave the game because of cramps. Tackle Kevin Allen collapsed in the locker room afterward because of stomach cramps.
Brian Williams, UK's mighty mite of a 5-foot-9 defensive end (five first hits, two assists, two passes broken up yesterday) had punt returns of 39 and 21 yards to provide a spark.
The flames were provided by Randy Jenkins, the Cats' designated "passing quarterback" of yesteryear.
Yesterday, the 6-1, 195-pound senior took the low road, running for touchdowns of 14 and 6 yards. The homefolks in Stickleyville, Va., which as included in the regional television audience, also saw Jenkins set up UK's other touchdown with a third-quarter scramble of 40 yards to the Indiana 12-yard line. Three plays later, George Adams scored from the 2 to give Kentucky the lead (17-13) for good.
"They gave me a lot of ground, almost as if just to see whether I would run," said Jenkins, who had rushed three times for a minus-5 yards in the first two games.
"He'd have to be on crutches not to take the room we gave," Indiana's first-years coach, Sam Wyche, said through a weak smile.
Now 3-0, Kentucky is off to its best start since the 1964 Wildcats beat Detroit, Mississippi and Auburn en route to a 5-5 record.
Indiana, rebuilding under Wyche, saw its record level at 1-1.
Jenkins, who rushed for a net 58 yards on seven carries, gave UK its first lead by running into the end zone from 14 yards out with 8:52 remaining in the third quarter. The touchdown -- set up by instinct rather than design -- gave Kentucky a 10-8 lead.
After faking a handoff to the left side, Jenkins rolled right and looked for wide receiver Rich Massie. The IU defender also kept his eyes on Massie and never saw Jenkins follow the pair untouched into the end zone.
Hoosier receiver Stephan Benson startled the Cats with a 28-yard catch and run less than two minutes after Jenkins' first touchdown. The TD -- your basic catch a 15-yard sideline pass, slip the tackler and sprint -- put Indiana up 13-10 with 7:30 left in the third quarter.
"I knew it would be something up and out," said Gordon Jackson, the tackler who was slipped on the third-and-six play. "I was thinking of how hard I was going to hit him instead of bringing him down and just went over top of him."
Jenkins made up for this mistake on UK's next possession. He hit three straight passes to push the ball near mid-field.
On third-and-five, Jenkins dropped back to pass, was flushed from the pocket and took off around the left side. A crushing block by Adams sprung Jenkins into the secondary. Chris Sipler brought the UK quarterback down at the IU 42.
Adams' touchdown gave UK a 27-13 lead. The clincher didn't come until 5:01 remained in the game.
Fittingly, Jenkins had the honor; rolling left after a fake into the line and going 8 untouched yards to the end zone. "There was nothing but me and green grass," Jenkins said. "Well, make that blue grass."