Wildcats win wild one over Warhawks 42-40

LEXINGTON, Ky - Kentucky's first winning season since 2002 was assured today with the Wildcats 42-40 victory over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The 'Cats surged to a 28-10 lead early in the 2nd quarter, but allowed 501 ards of total offense, including 351 yards rushing, and the game remained in doubt until the last play of the contest. Keenan Burton caught three touchdown passes to lead UK.

It was another game in which Kentucky was outgained in yardage. And it was another game Kentucky managed to win.

Andre Woodson had another stellar day for the Wildcats, passing for 359 yards on 25-35, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Burton was his favorite receiver, catching nine passes for 115 yards, including all three touchdowns. Rafael Little had another excellent all-purpose day, rushing for 89 yards on 19 carries, catching five passes for 89 yards, and returning one punt for 84 yards--the 7th longest punt return for a touchdown in Kentucky history.

Despite the early lead, Kentucky could not stop the Warhawk rushing attack, allowing four La.-Monroe players to average six or more yards per carry. The Warhawks were led by Calvin Dawson's 179 yards on 26 carries. Kinsmon Lancaster, the Warhawk quarterback, added 105 yards on 14 carries, and Erroll Hogan chipped in with 82 yards on 12 carries.

Louisiana-Monroe grabbed the early lead, courtesy of a 78-yard blocked field goal return. Lones Seiber's short 25-yard attempt was blocked at the line, and picked up and carried in for the touchdown and early 7-0 lead. Kentucky responded with four touchdowns on its next four possessions.

Alfonso Smith capped a 5-play, 65-yard drive with an eight-yard run for the Cats' first touchdown, tying the score at 7. After a ULM field goal, Burton's 37-yard grab of a Woodson pass put UK on top 14-10.

Burton caught his second touchdown pass of the game on the next possession, early in the 2nd quarter as UK went ahead 21-10. The Cats would gather their largest lead of the game with Little's 84-yard punt return next, and led 28-10 with 8:58 to play in the 2nd quarter.

La. Monroe scored the final ten points of the half to end the half with UK holding a 28-20 lead. After opening the third quarter with a touchdown drive, the Warhawks had scored 17 straight points, and the game was down to a slim one-point margin, 28-27.

Although the Wildcats failed to answer on their next possession, the Cats defense stiffened and forced ULM to punt next. When a botched snap rolled in the end zone, the Warhawk punted intentionally pushed the ball out of the end zone, giving UK a safety and a 3-point lead.

That lead would be extended to six points after a Seiber field goal, but shortly before the 3rd quarter ended, ULM mounted an eight play, 80 yard drive to take their first--and only--lead of the game, 34-33.

The stage was set for Kentucky's second consecutive fourth-quarter comeback victory, and that's exactly what they did. With 14:08 to play, the 'Cats regained the lead on a 34-yard Seiber field goal. When Burton caught his 3rd touchdown pass of the game with 8:17 to play, UK went up 42-34, and the extra point pending. The kick failed, and UK was left with a precarious eight point lead.

From that point, ULM mounted a time-consuming, 15-play, 7:23 drive that culminated in a touchdown to put the Warhawks within reach, 42-40, with only 54 seconds remaining. The two-point conversion try was stopped, and the game appeared in hand. The Warhawks regained possession with only four seconds remaining at midfield, but their last play try resulted in a short pass completion only, and Kentucky's 7th win of the season was complete.

Kentucky (7-4, 4-3) next faces Tennessee Saturday. The Wildcats sit in 2nd place of the SEC East, and with a win over the Volunteers, would finish in that position. Kentucky has never finished higher than 3rd place since the SEC began divisional play in 1992.

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