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4 > Image 4 of The Cats' Pause, October 8, 1988

Part of The Cats' Pause

Tide, unfit to be tied, wins 31-27 'Bama rallies from 17-0 deficit as third-string QB tosses three-yard TD pass in final seconds to nix 'Cat upset bid By TCP staff writer Jim Easterwood Defensive end Jay Dortch walked off the field with a white towel hiding his face. He was oblivious to the red-clad Alabama fans above. In fact, he was oblivious to everyone. Kentucky coach Jerry Claiborne was right behind his star defender. He smacked his right fist into his left palm as he walked, stoney-faced, into the tunnel leading into the locker rooms. He, too, seemed to be in semi-shock. The Kentucky defensive sanctuary underneath Commonwealth Stadium also was a tomb of gloom and utter despair. Left defensive guard Jerry Bell, who had played his heart out, stared straight ahead, his eyes transfixed. "Right now I'm in shock," said the intense 278-pounder. "I don't know what happened the second half. I have no idea. The team effort was there. . .but I just don't know what happened. I just don't know." HISTORY WILL SHOW the Tide rushed in to overcome a 17-0 halftime deficit, scored 24 fourth-quarter points to win 31-27. The record books will reveal the 12th-ranked Tide rolling 86 yards in the final 1:47 of play to score the winning touchdown. Disdaining the tie, Alabama's third-string quarterback, Vince Sutton, hit little-used tight end Gene Newberry with a three-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone with 10 seconds left on the clock. Kentucky then got off one desperation play for naught as a few of the players got caught with their heads down. "My immediate thought was that we could score again," said Kentucky quarterback Glenn Fohr. "But some guys had their heads hanging already. That's what I was mad about." Fohr had a right to be mad. For, in fact, 'Bama also could have hung their heads when Kentucky took a 27-16 lead with 9:39 to play. But Greg Gilbert wouldn't quit. He separated Alfred Rawls from the ball with Kermit Kendrick recovering at the 24. Sutton then floated a perfectly-timed seven-yard pass to Greg Payne for a touchdown. Philip Doyle's PAT made it 27-24, with 5:06 left. 'BAMA BOUNCED one more time. Crunch time began at their 14. Sutton scrambled 17 yards for a crucial first down on fourth down, hit Howard Cross for 16 and then Todd Richardson on a 45-yard pass to the five. And then, again on fourth down, Sutton faked a pitchout to Hill going to the left, whirled back to his right, and found a wide-open Newberry. Newberry had badly beaten UK safety Ron Robinson in the corner. "We were in a man (defense) with a blitz to one side," said linebacker Randy Holleran, the leading 'Cat tackier with nine. "What they (the coaches) give, I call. Apparently they thought it was a good call. We were going to try and pressure them and somebody missed a man coverage." Claiborne, however, insisted that the 'Bama left tackle was moving before the ball was snapped to Sutton. "There was illegal procedure, definitely," said Claiborne at first. "Nobody called it. I think it was the left tackle." But Claiborne then hedged a little. "Well, I have to look at the films before I can say definitely." Tide split end Todd Richardson (23) was able to outmaneuver UK's David Johnson to turn this bad throw by Sutton into a 45-yard reception, setting up Alabama's winning touchdown. The 45-yard pass to Richardson was, simply put, a brilliant catch. Richardson maneuvered to the inside in front of Johnson and came down with the ball. "You are supposed to look at the man and I heard the crowd roar and knew the ball was in the air," said Johnson. "To be honest with you I thought I played it pretty good. . .but he played it perfect." Kentucky was almost perfect as the 'Cats took it to 'Bama in the first half to roll back the Tide 17-0. The Wildcats jumped off to a 7-0 lead when Fohr played carom ball with John Bolden, who tipped his pass into the waiting arms of Ray Gover. Gover sped away from John Mangum for the touchdown. The Wildcats then made it 10-0 on a 38-yard field goal by Willis and Al Baker up-ped it to 17-0 with a 42-yard scoring scamper. Despite the second-quarter loss of spiritual leader Mike Pfeifer, the much-maligned 'Cat offensive line was doing wonders. Pfeifer, unfortunately, went down for the year with knee damage. BUT STRANGE THINGS began to happen just before the half. Strange plays that seemed to be a harbinger of a shock to come. Fohr drove the 'Cats 64 yards to the Alabama two following a missed Tide field goal. But, on a second down, Rawls was thrown for a two-yard loss. And then on third down Fohr, trapped, desperately got off a pass left-handed. . .a tricky feat since he is right-handed all the way. The ball was intercepted by Lee Ozmint on the one. "No, I've never tried it before and I wish I hadn't done it," said Fohr. "I should have ate the ball and we'd have had a field goal out of it. Heck, it's hard enough to throw right-handed." More misfortune followed in the second half. It began, innocently enough, with a nine-yard sack by Keith McCants that caused Fohr to cough up the ball. George Bethune recovered on the 14. Kentucky stiffened, but on fourth down, HUGE OLIVER BARNETT agreed with Claiborne. "The left tackle did move," said Baraett. "We all pointed toward the guy and the ref didn't call it. I didn't think there was anything I could do to change his mind." However, Bell differed with his coach and teammates. "Nah, his feet were still," said Bell. "He just kind of bobbled. He didn't take a step or nothing." The game films proved Barnett and Claiborne right, partly. In fact, two, not one, 'Bama lineman moved prematurely. However, if the ref missed this one, the 'Cats missed several opportunities to keep the game from coming down to that goal-line Play-Just what was missing on that last 'Bama march? Holleran had no plausible answers. "We stop them on fourth down in their end and we win it," said Holleran. "We didn't rise up. . .for whatever reason. It's disappointing. It breaks your heart." Fohr, who directed a 'Cat offense that piled up 410 net yards, also had no ready answer to the 'Cats inability to hold onto something precious. "I don't know what it is," said Fohr, who threw for 182 yards. "Maybe somebody has a curse on us. . .or something. We need to get a little more. . .1 don't know what the word is. . .we need to learn how to win the close ones." 'BAMA HAS WHAT IT TAKES. Winning teams usually find ways to win. And Kentucky seems to look for ways to lose even when they are winning. Sutton was looking for a way to win when he ducked through the 'Cat rushing lanes for the play that ultimately decided UK's fate. "That was a defensive letdown," said Barnett of Sutton's desparation run up the 'Cats' gut. He slid to a stop on the Alabama 34 after a 17-yard run. "We've got to learn to play four quarters. . .not just three. Or, we have to play every second," said Barnett, pinpointing UK's penchant for relaxing too soon. KENTUCKY ALABAMA First downs.................................................16 16 Rushes-yards.......................................52-228 42-195 Passing yards...........................................182 180 Attempts-completions-interceptions..........16*1 27-12-2 Total yarns................................................410 375 Return yards...............................................16 30 Punts-average........................................5-40.6 645.7 Fumbles-tost..............................................3-2 1-0 Penalties-yards.........................................5-35 5-60 Possession time.....................................31:41 28:19 Kentucky...................................10 7 3 727 Alabama.................................... 0 0 7 24 31 KYGover 37 pass from Fohr (Willis kick) KYWillis, 38 FG KYBaker 42 run (Willis kick) UA Doyle 12 pass from Mohr (Doyle kick) KYWillis 28 FG UADoyle 23 FG UAHill 76 run (pass failed) KYMurray 1 run (Willis kick) UAPayne 7 pass from Sutton (Hill run) UANewberry 3 pass from Sutton (Doyle kick) KENTUCKY RUSHING ATT GAIN LOST NET TDS LONG Fohr 6 0 41 (-41) 0 (-1) Hunter 19 67 8 59 0 14 Murray 3 5 0 5 1 3 Bilberry 2 12 0 12 0 6 Baker 9 69 8 61 1 42 Rawls 13 145 13 132 0 57 TOTALS 52 298 70 228 2 57 PASSING ATT COMP INT YDS TDS LONG Fohr 16 8 1 182 44 TOTALS 16 8 1 182 1 44 PASS RECEIVING NO YDS TDS LONG Gover 2 56 1 37 Hunter 1 (-7) 0 (-7) Jones 2 39 0 26 Logan 2 81 0 44 Murray 1 13 0 13 TOTALS 8 182 1 44 PUNTING NO YDS AVG LONG Nelson 4 203 50.8 58 Team 1 TOTALS 5 203 40.6 58 FIELD GOALS ATT MADE LONG Willis ? 2 38 TOTALS 3 2 38 PUNTS KICKOFFS INTS ALL RETURNS NO YDS NO YDS NO YDS Tolbert 5 15 - Maggard 1 6 Rawls 2 31 Hunter 1 21 Massey - 1 (-3) Johnson - 1 4 TOTALS 5 15 4 58 1 ALABAMA RUSHING ATT GAIN LOST NET TDS LONG Dunn 3 14 3 11 0 7 Stewart 8 29 2 27 0 9 Hill 21 145 2 143 1 76 Kent 3 8 0 8 0 3 Casteal 1' 2 0 2 0 2 Sutton 4 20 19 1 0 17 Turner 2 5 2 3 0 5 TOTALS 42 223 28 195 1 76 PASSING ATT COMP INT YDS TDS LONG Dunn 12 3 2 62 0 36 Sutton 14 8 0 106 2 45 Mohr 1 1 0 12 I 12 TOTALS 27 12 2 180 3 45 PASS RECEIVING NO YDS TDS LONG Stewart 1 (-1) 0 (-1) Payne 6 103 1 36 Doyle 1 12 1 12 Turner 1 2 0 2 Cross 1 16 0" 16 Richardson 1 45 0 45 Newberry 1 3 I 3 TOTALS 12 180 3 45 PUNTING NO YDS AVG LONG Mohr 6 274 !') 1 56 TOTALS 6 274 45.7 56 FIELD GOALS ATT MADE LONG Doyle 2 1 23 TOTALS 2 1 23 PUNTS KICKOFFS INTS ALL RETURNS NO YDS NO YDS NO YDS Cassimus 3 21 _ _ _ _ Thomas 1 9 - Goode 3 43 Ozmint - 1 0 TOTALS 4 30 3 43 1 0 -Cars Pause chart