FOOTBALL: 'Cats Miss Out on Golden Opportunity

In a game in which neither team played as if it wanted to win all that badly, Kentucky seemed to want it even less.

It got so bad that Kentucky allowed a fourth-string quarterback, South Carolina's Mike Rathe, to drive the Gamecocks for the winning score with 1:28 left in a 12-7 loss.

"Obviously this was a very, very tough loss," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "We made almost as many mistakes turning the ball over as we have in the last two weeks. The good news is that we took it away from them as many times. If we'd only done it one more time, it would have been a different outcome. It's a tough thing to have the game in your hands and have it fall out."

The Wildcats (1-5, 0-3 SEC) not only turned the ball over four times but also dropped a potential takeaway that could have saved the day. With a 7-6 lead late in the game Kentucky safety Mike Williams let an interception dropped a would-be interception. One play later, South Carolina had an interception. On the next play, the Gamecocks scored their game-winning touchdown on a 19-yard TD pass from Rathe to Troy Williamson.

Once again the Wildcats failed to make the plays down the stretch that turn close games into victories.

"It's better than the loss last week, but a loss is a loss is a loss," said Brooks, whose team lost 45-17 to Alabama the week before. "I was hoping that this would be a significant step forward, but we let it slip through our fingers like some games we had last year."

NOTES, QUOTES
GAME BALL GOES TO: DE Sweet Pea Burns -- He's struggled with a nagging knee injury this season but came through with seven solo tackles, an assist, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Glenn Holt -- The junior receiver caught 10 of Kentucky's 22 complete passes.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We know we can play football with anybody, and we showed that. We've just got to finish the game." -- Kentucky DE Sweet Pea Burns.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The defense kept Kentucky in the game by forcing five turnovers and allowing only 12 points.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The Wildcats did manage a 94-yard scoring drive, but still managed only 251 yards and one touchdown while turning the ball over four times. Kentucky has now been held below 300 yards six times in its past eight games.

ROSTER REPORT: Four days after suffering a dislocated left thumb in practice, WR Gerad Parker still caught three passes for 23 yards. ... Kentucky continues to adjust its starting lineup on defense, this time going with true freshman Wesley Woodyard at inside linebacker and redshirt freshman Joe Schuler at outside linebacker. Just two weeks ago Woodyard was a safety but his play at linebacker has been an immediate bit with defensive coordinator Mike Archer.


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