The '84 matchup between the Wildcats and Volunteers had all the ingredients for an exciting college football game: a sunny fall afternoon in front of a sold-out stadium crowd, a heated rivalry, two teams headed for postseason play, and a chance to see a couple of personal records achieved, or possibly extended.
The series, which the Volunteers led going into the contest 48-22-9, also features a winner's trophy: the coveted beer barrel.
This wasn't your typical Saturday afternoon.
Wildcats Break On Top
The Wildcats of Jerry Claiborne won the opening toss and decided to take the second half option as they kicked the ball away to the Vols. Claiborne's decision was a smart one as Tennessee's freshman running back, Charles Wilson coughed the ball up on the first play from scrimmage. Wilson's misque was caused by defensive guard David Thompson and recovered by Frank Hare at the UT 30.
Kentucky's offense now took over deep inside Volunteer territory with only 11 ticks off the scoreboard.
Playing in his last regular season contest, tailback George Adams carried on the first two plays for a net six yards. Adams entered the contest needing only 25 yards to become the third ever UK player to crack the 1,000-yard barrier (Sonny Collins - twice, and John "Shipwreck" Kelly).
On third and four from the UT 24, sophomore quarterback Bill Ransdell connected with fullback Chris Derry on the right sidelines for 10 yards and a crucial Wildcat first down. Two plays later, after a six-yard gain by Mark Logan, the Wildcats were guilty of offensive holding and were now faced with second down and fourteen from the UT 14.
However, end Eric Pitts, with the help of a block from Joker Phillips, got open and hauled in a 16-yard pass from Ransdell. The sophomore signal caller then left the ball for a leaping Adams. Adams' two-yard touchdown gave him 13 touchdowns -- tying a school mark (a record he would later break), and UK a quick lead.
Led by Johnnie Jones, the '84 SEC rushing leader, the Vols marched 61 yards in 11 plays to close the gap 7-3. Jones had carries of three, 29, and two, putting Fuad Reveiz in field goal position. The current SEC record-holder of 16 straight field goals entering the game kicked a 37-yarder to make the score 7-3 in favor of UK with 5:48 left in the first quarter.
Both squad's defensive units dominated the rest of the first half. A 36-yard field goal by Reveiz was the only scoring in the second quarter. The crowd seemed to bother Ransdell in the second stanza. The gathering of 93,791 (about 7,000 were UK supporters) was by far the loudest of the four host schools Kentucky faced this year. Early in the second quarter from the UK 44, with a big Orange wave encircling inside Neyland Stadium, Ransdell was picked off by defensive back Charles Davis at the UT 30 and raced into Wildcat territory to the 48. Davis' interception set upReveiz'ssecond score.
The visitors' defense was just as tough. Tennessee, who had scored 82 points in its last two games, was held to only six points in the first half.
Reveiz'sconsecutive string of 18 field goals was broken when the senior barely missed (short) from 57 yards with :26 left until halftime.
Bringing Down The UT Quarterback
Bowl-Bound Cats Stun Vols 17-12 In
Calhoun's Play And Worley's Kick Spell A UK Win
Behind a powerful offensive line, Kentucky received the second half kickoff and traveled the distance for its biggest lead of the day.
Ransdell completed a third down pass to Phillips for 15 yards for a first down at the UT 41. Following a four-yard gain by Adams, the quarterback from Elizabethtown found Cisco Bryant on the UT 26 before fumbling the ball out of bounds at the 23.
On first and goal at the eight Adams bulled straight ahead for seven yards to set up UK's second TD. The 6-foot-l 225 pound back followed the strong blocking of his hungry offensive line and easily scored from one yard. Freshman Joe Worley's extra point attempt was good as Kentucky led 14-6 with 4:44 had elasping in the third quarter.
In appreciation for a job well done Adams noted that he will be taking his offensive line and fullbacks out for steaks Tuesday night.
Kentucky simply dominated the third quarter as it controlled the ball for 10:15.
Though, led by the passing of junior quarterback Tony Robinson and the running of Jones, the Vols got within two points early in the fourth quarter. During their drive (starting at the UT 26) Jones had gains of six, 17, eight, five, and five -- helping his team move to the UK 16.
Robinson then connected with receiver Eric Swanson at the two-yard line as the 6-foot-l junior scampered in for the score.
Coach Johnny Majors decided to go for the tie. But Robinson's roll out attempt failed when the quarterback optioned to run and was met viciously at the two by the 6-2 255-pound Hare.
Tennessee's defense stopped UK and forced a Calhoun punt with 9:55 remaining. But like their opponents, it was time for the Wildcats' defense to tighten up. Tighten up is exactly what the Blue and White defenders had in mind.
Hare and linebacker Guy Neal corralled Jones on a first-down play for a one-yard gain. With UT at their 41 .Robinson was chased out of the pocket by Jerry Reese and eventually lost seven yards. The quarterback was again forced out of the passing area by a UK rush headed by the 6-2 244-pound Reese. With the Christian County product all over UT's quarterback, Robinson threw the ball in vain. The attempted pass resulted in an intentional grounding penalty and forced the Vols to punt on fourth and 37 from the UT 14.
Late in the fourth quarter Kentucky got a break as Reggie McKenzie was called for running into UK punter Paul Calhoun which gave UK a first down at the Tennessee 47. Seven plays later Worley, the smallest member on the Wildcat squad kicked perhaps the biggest field goal of his life. The 5-10 148 pound placekicker booted a 34-yarder to lengthen the lead 17-12.
With 2:09 remaining, Reveiz's presence was not as important with Tennessee now needed a touchdown for the win. Although the Volunteers probably had visions of winning like the Eagles of Boston College did the day before over a stunned Miami team.
On fourth-and-11 from the Vols' 10, Robinson desperately completed a sideline pass to receiver Tim McGee for 17 yards. Seven plays later, with less than :20 remaining and no timeouts, Robinson cooly hit McGee on the Cat's 13, but the receiver was tripped and was unable to get out of bounds.
The Vol's hopes ended on the 13. After an official timeout (moving the down markers) with :03 left Robinson tried to stop the clock with a pass out of bounds, but failed.