BLOOMINGTON, Ind. --- The opponent and the venue were new, but results all too familiar.
For the 17th straight year, the Kentucky Wildcats walked off the field with their heads down and owners of another 'L' in their season finale, falling 26-15 on Saturday to Indiana.
In a game originally scheduled for Sept. 15 but postponed due to the terrorist attacks on America, Kentucky (2-9) showed little of the intensity or execution it displayed two weeks ago in a near upset of fourth-ranked Tennessee. Instead, the lifeless Cats were dominated in every phase of the game by Big Ten also-ran Indiana (5-6).
The Hoosiers rushed for 215 yards, including 97 and a pair of touchdowns by fullback Jeremi Johnson and 85 more from tailback Levron Williams. They also got 194 yards and two touchdown passes from senior quarterback Antwaan Randle El, who finished his marvelous career as the first player in NCAA history to record 2,500 yards in total offense four consecutive years. His 11,364 yards moved him past Boston College's Dougie Flutie for fifth all time.
Kentucky had very few answers. After scoring on their second possession of the game, the Cats had four straight three-and-out series, and saw kicker Seth Hanson miss a 33-yard field goal as time expired in the first half with Indiana holding a 19-7 lead.
"It really puzzles you that the kids just came out and played flat," said Kentucky coach Guy Morriss, who must now wait to learn whether he will be retained following the program's second straight 2-9 season and looming NCAA probation.
"That's my responsibility, and obviously I didn't do a very good job of getting them ready to play. But you do wonder why sometimes, and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out."
Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen also had trouble explaining the Cats' performance.
"We never could get in a rhythm," he said. "You've got to give credit to their defensive coordinator and their defense. They did a great job today. It didn't look as confusing on film, but they did something today that we hadn't really seen and weren't used to."
Lorenzen still managed to complete 26 of 47 passes for 324 yards, but threw only one touchdown pass, was intercepted once and sacked six times for 54 yards in losses. The UK ground game didn't help, either, managing just 16 yards on 19 carries.
"We couldn't seem to get any spark, any kind of fire whatsoever," Morriss said.
Kentucky took a 7-0 lead on Lorenzen's 12-yard pass to Tommy Cook, who was stripped from behind and fumbled into the end zone. Derek Abney was there to recover for the touchdown.
Indiana countered on the ensuing possession, getting a 50-yard kickoff return by Williams to set up good field position. Ten plays later, Johnson powered his way in from 2 yards out to even the game at 7-7 with 2:47 left in the opening quarter.
The Hoosiers made it 13-7 with 9:53 left in the second quarter on a 29-yard pass from Randle El to tight end Kris Dielman on a fourth-and-two play.
With time running down in the first half, Randle El led the Hoosiers on an 11-play, 74-yard drive that overcame 25 yards in penalties. The IU quarterback capped the drive with a 19-yard scoring strike to receiver Courtney Roby as the lead grew to 19-7 at the 1:06 mark.
Indiana extended the lead to 26-7 early in the fourth quarter with a 28-yard touchdown run by Johnson.
The Cats avoided a blowout by getting a 7-yard touchdown pass from Lorenzen to receiver Aaron Boone with 4:07 left in the game. Lorenzen's conversion pass to Martez Johnson closed the scoring.
It was a particularly sweet victory for Indiana, who had not beaten the Cats since 1994. The Hoosier seniors closed the season with their first victories over Purdue and Kentucky in their careers.