That continued to be the pregame theme as it was clear that the players representing Tennessee outsized their couterparts on both lines. The thought was, Tennessee is going to run it all night, while Kentucky will need to throw it.
Instead it turned out to be a very effective and balanced attack that helped Kentucky win for the fourth time in five years. A 94-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tennessee's Ernest Williams, who is headed to play for Memphis, allowed the home team to hold a 14-3 advantage at the half.
Kentucky came out of the locker room more focused and controlled the third quarter, outscoring Tennessee 12-0, grabbing a 15-14 lead on a touchdown runs by Danville's Charles Pennix (EKU) and Dustin Grutza (Cincinnati). Grutza scored on another run early in the fourth quarter, pushing the visitors ahead 22-14 with 11:39 to play.
Tennessee began a comeback on it's next possession, driving the length of the field for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 22-20. A fumble following a short reception by Lonnell Dewalt on the first offensive play following the kickoff was recovered by Tennessee on the Kentucky 23-yards line. The home squad converted a field goal to reclaim the lead at 23-22 with 7:18 remaining.
Charles Pennix's second touchdown of the evening returned the lead to Kentucky for good at 28-23.
NOTES FROM THE SIDELINES
Scott Kuhn could become yet another great tight end to wear the Red and Black! Kuhn was very impressive all night! Kuhn, who recorded four receptions for 86-yards, runs routes very well and appeared to find an open seam each time. He has great hands, runs very well, has deceptive speed and doesn't go down after the first hit. He also did a very good job with his blocking schemes.
Mario Urrutia was open all night
Urrutia didn't appear to let the lack of production effect his attitude though. He continued to run tight routes and getting open until the game was over.
The ITV game ball goes to Mario Urrutia!
Danville's Charles Pennix was named Most Valuable Player after rushing 85-yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. He also added two receptions for 25 yards. Mason County quarterback Dustin Grutza had to be a close second. Grutza tossed for 207 yards and rushed for 30 yards and two scores.
Impressive Duo for Western
The Hilltoppers have signed two players that played very well in the game in defensive back Gio Love of Fort Campbell and receiver Curtis Hamilton of Paducah Tilghman.
Hamilton (6'1, 185) had three receptions for 88 yards. Love (6'0, 180), who had some wondering if he was Division IA material, basically saved the game for Kentucky twice, with two impressive pass breakups in the end zone.
The Kentucky passing game which consisted of Grutza and Allan Holland, established a new record for most passing yards in the history of the event. The two combined for 297 yards, passing the old mark of 246 yards that was set in 1996 and featured Tim Couch.
The 25 points scored in the second half by the Kentucky offense also set a new record for most points scored in a half. The previous record of 21 points was set by Tennessee in 1987.
Pennix and Grutza, who both rushed for two touchdowns, tied the current record. Their names join three others, the last being Arliss Beach in 2002.
Others That Shined...
Campbellsville's Ian Hoskins (Marshall) played mostly on the defensive line, while he projects as a safety or linebacker in college. He frequented the Tennessee backfield, forcing early throws or catching the rusher from behind...Kentucky signee's Marcus McClinton and Jason Leger played solid at safety and defensive tackle respectively...St. X linebacker Dan Bick (Purdue) seemed to be involved in most tackles...Louisville invited walkon Justin Deeley, also of St. X, started and provided tight man coverage all night...only disappointment on the night came when a player from the Kentucky team, who will remain unnamed, was asked to come out of the game for one play and he yelled back in disbelief, "I'm an All-American!"