Date story was published: Sunday, October 9, 1983
Cranking up its wishbone offense to score the most points by an opponent in the history of Commonwealth Stadium, seventh-ranked Auburn thumped the Kentucky Wildcats 49-21 last night.
If the first defeat of 1983 was a bitter pill for the Wildcats, they did not accept it without a fight. Riding the passing of freshman quarterback Bill Ransdell, who replaced the injured Randy Jenkins, Kentucky scored a pair of second-half touchdowns that sliced the Auburn lead to 35-21 before the Tigers finally put the game out of reach with a two fourth-quarter scores.
The victory lifted Auburn to 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky is 4-1 and 0-1 in the conference.
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The game was played in front of a record crowd of 57,987 fans.
But, this was a night that belonged to the Auburn offense. When it was over, the Tigers had piled up 25 first downs and 436 total yards. Sophomore running back Bo Jackson rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns, while quarterback Randy Campbell scored two touchdowns, picking up 48 yards on nine carries.
Kentucky's brightest star was Ransdell. The freshman quarterback completed 12 of 21 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown.
The Tigers roared to a 28-7 halftime lead and Jackson's 16-yard touchdown run with 10:44 to play in the third quarter made the margin a comfortable 35-7.
Kentucky countered with a brief flurry of points that brought the crowd to life and seemingly put the game in reach again.
First, Ransdell rifled a 50-yard touchdown pass to freshman tight end Mark Wheeler and it was 35-14 with 7:50 remaining in the third quarter.
On its next two possessions, Auburn went nowhere and Kentucky kept coming. Sparked by Ransdell's passing, including a 27-yarder to Joe Phillips that put the ball on the Auburn 2, the Wildcats marched 59 yards in eight plays to a 1- yard touchdown run by George Adams, who gained 74 yards on 13 attempts, and the Auburn lead was 35-21 with 14:18 left in the game.
That, said Auburn, was enough.
Kentucky attempted a short kickoff to the right sideline that Lionel James fielded and returned 45 yards to the UK 43. After just seven plays, Auburn had a 1-yard touchdown run from Jackson and a 42-21 lead with 11 minutes left.
Kentucky threatened one more time, driving to the Auburn 21 where a Ransdell completed a fourth down pass to fullback Curt Cochran, but the Wildcats were short of the first down.
From there, Auburn methodically marched 81 yards in 10 plays for the game's final score, a 20-yard touchdown run by Mike Mann.
A bit of Auburn trickery led to the game's first touchdown. Taking the ball at their own 47, the Tigers reached the Kentucky 38 in three plays where, on first-and-10, split end Clayton Beauford dashed 34 yards on a reverse to the UK 4.
Jackson slashed off left tackle on the next play for the touchdown and Al Del Greco kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 8:58 to play in the first quarter.
Kentucky ran only three plays and punted on each of its first two possessions. The third time, however, was a charm for the Wildcats.
A 10-yard pass from Jenkins to tight end Oliver White gave the Wildcats their first first down of the game at their own 35. Adams picked up 11 yards around right end and then Jenkins hit Curt Cochran with an 8-yard pass as UK penetrated Auburn territory for the first time at the Tigers' 46.
Kentucky moved into scoring position when Jenkins gunned a pass to Rick Massie, who made a leaping catch for a 28-yard gain and a first down at the Auburn 13. Three plays later, Jenkins tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Adams and Chris Caudell's kick tied the score at 7 with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
However, the rest of the half would belong to Auburn.
The Tigers jumped back in front with only a minute and 10 seconds gone in the second quarter when junior cornerback David King split a pair of Kentucky receivers and picked off a Jenkins pass at the UK 40 and darted untouched to the end zone. Del Grec's kick made it 14-7.
The Auburn lead climbed to 21-7 with a 72-yard, 13-play drive that consumed more than six minutes. This time Campbell was the key, completing a 20-yard pass to Tommy Carroll, gaining 9 yards on a reverse keeper and scoring the touchdown from 14 yards out on another reverse keeper. Del Grec's kick gave Auburn a 21-7 lead with 3:11 remaining in the half.
The Tigers, though, still had time to put another touchdown on the scoreboard before the first half ended. Freshman Tray Gainous returned Paul Calhoun's punt 21 yards to the Kentucky 42 to put Auburn within striking distance with only 1:06 remaining in the half. Freshman running back Brent Fullwood then ripped off an 18-yard gain to the 24 and Campbell scored four plays later on a keeper from the 9.