Boyd brings Cats back for win over Vandy

November 14, 2004|MARTY WARREN

LEXINGTON - Even with all of the injuries at Kentucky this season, Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns and Ellery Moore were not about to miss their final game at Commonwealth Stadium.

Despite a 1-8 season, which included seven straight losses and no Southeastern Conference wins in over a year, the two seniors wanted to be part of their last home game. As it turned out, though, a pair of walk-ons and underclassmen grabbed the spotlight in the final minutes Saturday as the Wildcats overcame a 13-0 deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Vanderbilt 14-13.

"Ellery and Sweet Pea made it very clear that they would not miss this game, and we had no thoughts on trying to hold them out," Kentucky defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. "It didn't matter how much pain they were in, they were going to try and play. That being said, with all the injuries we have experienced this year, sometimes you have to rely on walk-ons to keep you going. Karl Booker and Dennis Johnson are two kids that poured their heart and soul into this game today and were outstanding."


Johnson, who recorded a career high seven tackles, said he was just trying to keep Vanderbilt out of the end zone again when he recorded his first two sacks of the season midway in the third quarter.

"The score was still 13-0 at the time, and we didn't need to get down anymore," the junior linebacker said. "The man across from me left me just enough room to shoot the gaps and make the plays."

Kentucky held the Commordores on the series and eventually cut the lead to 13-7 on Shane Boyd's 7-yard touchdown pass to Glenn Holt early in the fourth quarter.

Johnson, though, saved his best play for last. He blocked his first career punt with 5:35 to play in the game, and Jacob Tamme returned the ball to the Vanderbilt 20-yard line.

"We knew we could get (a block), and I was going for it , too, " Tamme said. "It just so happened that Dennis got there first. If I could have scooped the ball off the ground I would have scored. I fumbled it briefly, though, and stepped out of bounds after I grabbed hold of it."

The Wildcats didn't score following the blocked punt, though, as they turned the ball over on downs. Kentucky punted the ball back to Vanderbilt, but the defense held to get the ball back one last time.

Wounded duck

This time the Wildcats didn't miss out on their opportunity. Taking over at the Vanderbilt 36, Kentucky ran three plays before senior quarterback Shane Boyd lofted a wounded duck of a pass into the end zone. Holt, however, outjumped the defender in the back of the end zone for the tying touchdown.

"If I had a gun, I would have shot it out of the air," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks joked. "It looked like something you see when you go duck hunting."

Tamme has been waiting for the play all year, but he envisioned himself on the receiving end of the throw.

"Glenn was in a great situation, and I don't know why we haven't done it more," the redshirt freshman from Boyle County High School said. "All he had to do was jump up and get it. That is the type of situation I would love to be in. We did it a lot in high school. I was over on the bench thinking good thoughts when the pass went up, and everyone else was scared to death."

Fellow Boyle grad Taylor Begley, who missed two field goals in a game for the first time all season, added the extra point to give Kentucky the win.

As bad as Kentucky needed a win, Tamme said it was the way the Wildcats got it that meant a lot to the team.

"It wasn't like we were down 13-0, it was more like 150-0," Tamme said. "To be able to come back and win this game after being down in the fourth quarter means a lot to this team. We haven't quit fighting. We just haven't been able to make the plays when we needed them. Today, we did."


* Kentucky's 164 rushing yards marked the second-most yards that the Wildcats have accumulated on the ground this season, second only to the 355 yards they had against Indiana.

* UK didn't commit a turnover against the Commordores, the first time all season the Wildcats didn't have a turnover in the game.

* Freshman Lonnell DeWalt blocked his fifth field goal attempt of the season in the second quarter.

* Arliss Beach's 52-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter was the best of his career. It helped set up Kentucky's first score of the game.

* Holt had a career best 87 yards on nine catches.

* Johnson's blocked punt was the first for a Wildcats since Andrew Hopewell blocked one last year against Arkansas.

* Muhammad Abdullah had a best career game with 10 tackles, caused a fumble and had two sacks for losses of 17 yards. Freshman Marcus McClendon also had a career best eight tackles, besting his previous mark of five set last week against Georgia.

* The game was the first since the Mississippi State (17-7) game last year that Kentucky rallied from a halftime deficit to win. It was also the first time since Sept. 14, 2002 that they rallied from a fourth quarter deficit (Indiana 17-14) to win.

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