Date story was published: Sunday, November 6, 1983
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After a six-year wait, winning officially returned to the University of Kentucky football program last night. And, the Wildcats did it with what's-happening-now style, winning "ugly."
Thrashing with a Vanderbilt offense that was both potent and punchless, UK stopped the Commodores 17-8 in a nationally televised game that was anything but telegenic.
Vanderbilt crossed UK's 30-yardline six times in the game, three times driving to inside the Wildcat 10.
Yet, because of fumbles, interceptions and ill-timed penalties, the
Commodores had nothing to show for their efforts but a lot of yardage and a late touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Kurt Page to Chuck Scott.
Last night's victory improved UK's record to 6-2-1, assuring the Wildcats of their first winning season since the 1977 team went 10-1. Vanderbilt, losing for the fifth straight game, fell to 2-7.
UK didn't clinch the victory until George Adams rumbled 54 yards for a touchdown with 8:26 left in the fourth quarter. That score widened UK's lead to 17-0, a margin seemingly safe against Page's increasingly accurate arm.
Page passed for 250 yards, in the process breaking Whit Taylor's school record for passing yardage in a season. Page, a junior who was Taylor's understudy the past two years, raised his season total to 2,498 yards.
Vandy's scoring threats were stalled by three fumbles, two interceptions and three penalties inside the UK 30. The Commodores also tried a fake field goal that resulted in a 2-yard loss. Vandy kicker Ricky Anderson also missed a field-goal attempt of 37 yards.
UK's defense bent, but it was Vanderbilt's offense that broke in the first half.
The Commodores, living up to a reputation of being dynamite between the 30- yard-lines and duds thereafter, threatened Kentucky repeatedly but failed just as often to cash in.
Of its eight first-half possessions, Vandy crossed its own point of no return (the other team's 30) three times. Twice, the Commodores cracked UK's 10. Once, Vandy came within what must have been molecules of the UK goal line.
Yet, fumbles, interceptions and penalties conspired to keep the Commodores scoreless until the fourth quarter.
Kentucky was by no means picture perfect. The Wildcats brought back memories of last week's disappointing tie against Cincinnati by dropping two passes. UK also fumbled a snap, stalling one of its two scoring opportunities, and allowed its passers to be sacked three times.
UK owed its 10-0 lead at intermission to a big play and a fumble.
Rick Massie atoned for his two dropped passes last week by holding on in the open field last night and sprinting to a 67-yard touchdown. The catch was set up by a play-action fake and gave UK a 7-0 lead with 7:24 remaining in the first quarter.
Randy Jenkins faked a sweep to George Adams around the right end. The senior quarterback then drifted to his left and hit Massie, who had sneaked at least 10 yards behind the Vandy secondary.
UK improved its lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter, cashing in on a Vandy fumble at the Wildcat 31. UK could get no closer than the Commodore 22. Chris Caudell's 39-yard field goal gave UK a 10-0 lead with 11:56 left in the second quarter.
Before the half ended, Vandy threatened to score twice.
Vandy rode Kurt Page's passing to the UK 13 midway in the second quarter. On second-and-eight at the UK 13, Page hit Keith Edwards on a pass to the UK three. The first down was erased by a holding penalty.
Two plays later, tailback Carl Woods knifed to an apparent first down at the three, but a procedure penalty wiped out the run. On fourth down, Vandy faked a field goal. A shuffle pass to Edwards was stopped at the 14.
Kentucky had its lead despite gaining only 20 yards on 20 rushing attempts.
Vandy, attempting to exploit a Kentucky defensive line weakened by injury, abandoned its passing game enough to gain 116 yards on the ground. The Commodores added 91 yards in the air, amassing 207 total yards to UK's 133. But, the Commodores lost two fumbles and a pass interception.
Defensive end Stacey Burrell missed last night's game because of a one-game suspension by Coach Jerry Claiborne.
Burrell was suspended as "a disciplinary action," said Russell Rice, the school's sports information director.
Burrell was UK's 10th-leading tackler this season. He had been credited with 24 "first hits" and 17 assists in the Wildcats' first eight games.