Hartline, the quarterback who has always seemed to be second-guessed, delivered a game-winning touchdown pass to Cobb with 1 minute, 15 seconds to play to prove that first-year coach Joker Phillips' "Operation Win" is now a reality. "I am still shaking. What an effort," Phillips said.
Hartline, who was 32 for 42 for 349 yards and four scores, was a bit more composed than Phillips. The coach had to stop several times to keep regain his composure — something UK fans made no attempt to do when they stormed the Commonwealth Stadium field to celebrate the first win over South Carolina since 2000 and UK's first win ever over South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
"It was a convenient way to end the game," Hartline said of his embrace with Cobb, who became UK's all-time leader in career touchdowns with 33 thanks to the game-winning score. "It was just a great feeling. We did not quit. I am glad we responded the way we did.
"Everyone did what they were supposed to do, including myself. The effort was outstanding. I couldn't be more happy."
He had every right to be happy. He probably could not have been faulted if he wanted to say, "I told you so," to those who have doubted him, but he's too classy for that and was too thrilled just to have the win to look back. "This was sweet because we had not ever beat coach (Steve) Spurrier," he said.
It was a little more sweet because it was at South Carolina last year that Hartline suffered a season-ending knee injury while he was having one of his best games. Of course, he may well have had his best game ever Saturday. "You could say it was redemption, but I don't want to look at it that way," Hartline said.