LSU shatters UK upset bid with TD at :13

The Cats seemingly had their first SEC victory at hand Saturday night until a botched offensive call and a furious LSU comeback sent the Big Blue faithful home with a bitter defeat...

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Guy Morriss's first Southeastern Conference victory was there for the taking.

Instead, the Kenutcky Wildcats did some of their all too familiar giving.

Despite season-long decrees about the need to play a more physical brand of football and run the ball in key situations, Kentucky reverted to the errs of "Mummeball" late in Saturday's game against LSU.

Holding a three-point lead and facing a third-and-one situation at the Tigers' 44-yard line with 3:27 remaining in the game, the Cats opted to use a spread formation with an empty backfield rather than continuing to chip away with power back Artose Pinner. They paid dearly for the play call as Jared Lorenzen was pressured on what was designed to be a quarterback draw, and wound up throwing the ball away.

With the clock stopped and a timeout retained, LSU gladly took possession of the ball following a punt and marched 80 yards on 12 plays to claim a 29-25 win on Rohan Davey's 6-yard pass to Michael Clayton with 13 seconds left.

Allowing Davey to get back on the field spelled doom for the Cats, who were burned for 383 yards and two touchdowns on 27-of-38 passing by the LSU senior.

"We came through and moved the ball effectively when the game was on the line and never quit," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "A drive like that builds character and confidence, and it's a huge step in the positive direction.

"Kentucky played a great game. They really battled out there and fought hard. You have to give their coaches credit for a great game plan. They took the momentum away from us in the third and fourth quarters, and Lorenzen did a great job for them. He got them moving when he had to."

Until, of course, the play which may come to symbolize a season which has seen Kentucky (1-5 overall, 0-4 SEC) extend its conference losing streak to 13. A stunned crowd of 52,471 left Commonwealth Stadium buzzing about that decision on what had been a raucous homecoming night.

"We were going to try and toss the ball (to Pinner), but evidently something we did (LSU) didn't like, and they called a timeout," Morriss explained. "We came back and wanted to run the ball again, but they shifted to get their inside linebackers outside. It was a good call... we just didn't block it right."

It was one of only a handful of mistakes by the Kentucky offense on a night when it rolled up 413 total yards against LSU (3-2, 1-2 SEC). Two of the others were interceptions by starting quarterback Shane Boyd, who gave way to Lorenzen with 6:00 left in the third quarter. The former UK starter instantly sparked the Cats' offense by completing six of his first eight passes for 146 yards and two touchdown passes to give his team a 25-22 lead.

The sting of the loss will now likely be replaced by a full-blown quarterback controversy. Morriss allowed Boyd to play the entire game last week in a 42-6 loss at South Carolina despite the redshirt freshman's struggles, and earlier this week informed the media that Boyd was his "quarterback of the future." That prompted published reports that Lorenzen --- who set six NCAA and SEC passing records as a redshirt freshman last year --- would transfer from UK at the end of the season.

Asked who would get the starting nod next week at Georgia, Morriss declined to announce his intentions.

"I don't think (Georgia coach Mark) Richt needs to know right now who we're going to start," he said. "We'll go through our films and make that decision. We probably won't announce it until gameday."

It was a bittersweet return to the field for Lorenzen.

"I have mixed emotions about tonight's game," he said. "I am glad that I was able to get in there and help this team out, but obviously we wanted to come out with a win. Rohan Davey is a great quarterback and LSU is a great team. Unfortunately, they are the ones who get to walk away with the win tonight."

Davey was only one of a cast of offensive stars for LSU, who recorded 515 total yards. Sophomore running back LaBrandon Toefield was a workhorse, carrying the ball a season-high 28 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. Clayton, a freshman receiver who caught the game-winner, had nine receptions for 105 yards and two scores on the night. Sidekick Josh Reed, the SEC's leading yardage receiver, added to his brilliant season with eight catches for 160 yards.

The Tigers appeared primed for a blowout in the game's early stages as they marched 81 yards on six plays on their first possession. Passes of 28 and 26 yards from Davey to Reed and Jerel Myers, respectively, helped set up Toefield's 35-yard touchdown run. John Corbello's extra point made it 7-0 at the 9:24 mark of the opening stanza.

LSU pushed the lead to 10-0 on Corbello's 34-yard field goal at the 1:13 mark of the first quarter. That capped a 12-play, 64-yard drive that consumed six minutes.

Meanwhile, Kentucky's first three possessions resulted in a pair of punts and a safety when the Cats were called for holding in the end zone with 48 seconds left in the first quarter. The Tigers carried the 12-0 advantage into the second quarter.

Kentucky finally got on the scoreboard with 10:42 left in the second period when Seth Hanson converted a 24-yard field goal. That drive, however, could have produced more after a first-and-goal situation at the 8-yard line. Boyd misfired on possible touchdown passes to Aaron Boone and Brad Pyatt against an LSU defense ranked 114th out of 115 teams in Division I against the pass.

LSU was quick to respond, using only five plays to drive 70 yards and stretch its lead to 19-3 on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Davey to Clayton at the 8:00 mark.

Boyd got the Cats in the end zone on the ensuing drive, leading UK on a 12-play, 77-yard drive capped by his 13-yard keeper. Hanson's extra point made it 19-10 with 3:23 left in the first half.

A 46-yard field goal by Corbello gave LSU a 22-10 lead going into halftime, and marked the last points the Tigers would manage against UK's bend-but-don't-break defense until the final 13 seconds.

Lorenzen connected on a 31-yard touchdown strike to Boone and a 23-yard scoring pass to Derek Abney to highlight the comeback. He also hit tight end Derek Smith for a two-point conversion which gave the Cats a three-point edge entering the final 8:28.

"Jared came in and threw the ball on the money, got us going," Morriss said. "He's done a good job of studying and having himself prepared so that when his opportunity came, he'd make the best of it. He did that tonight."

But once again, a thin and weary UK defense was not able to answer the challenge. LSU converted a whopping 68 percent (13 of 19) on third-down conversions in the game --- including three times on the final drive --- which proved to be a big key in the victory.

"Bottom line, nobody made a play on third down," said UK junior defensive end Dennis Johnson. "Somebody's got to do it, but we don't have anybody stepping up.

"It's very frustrating. You have the momentum, but it all goes away and you have to line up and play four more downs every time."

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