LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Montario Hardesty had the ball in his
hands in overtime, determined that Kentucky's streak of futility
wouldn't end under his watch at Tennessee.
"I just didn't want to fall," Hardesty said. "I wanted to get
in the end zone and go celebrate with my teammates."
Hardesty did just that. Three times, in fact - including the
20-yard game winner in overtime - as the Volunteers outlasted the
Wildcats 30-24 on Saturday night, their 25th straight victory
against the border rivals.
The senior running back, who also racked up a career-high 179
yards on the ground, scampered up the middle for the final score
after Kentucky's Lones Seiber missed a 49-yard field goal in the
Wildcats' overtime chance.
"We knew we had to weather the storm," Tennessee coach Lane
Tennessee (7-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) made sure its
streak of dominance over Kentucky (7-5, 3-5) would survive Kiffin's
first year on the job. The win also likely locked up a New Year's
Day bowl for the Volunteers and clinched second place behind
Florida in the SEC East.
The Wildcats have already secured bowl eligibility for a
school-record fourth straight year, but their players were wanting
more. They had already ended long droughts this year, such as their
first win against Auburn since 1966 and first at Georgia since
1977, and came just short in their quest to knock off an
embarrassing streak that dates to 1985 - the longest in the nation
among continual rivals.
"You've got to give Tennessee credit," Kentucky coach Rich
Brooks said. "They took the fight right to us, and we didn't
respond very well."
Kentucky forced overtime with a 23-yard field goal by Seiber,
set up when Ashton Cobb knocked the ball out of the hands of Luke
Stocker following a completion, and the Wildcats recovered.
"The day I signed with Tennessee I told somebody, 'I don't want
to lose to Big Blue,"' Stocker said. "The defense bailed me
That came after Tennessee took its first lead late in the third
quarter when Randall Cobb fumbled, setting up a go-ahead field
goal. Cobb had 18 carries for 101 yards, among other contributions.
Kentucky used a huge defensive play by linebacker Sam Maxwell to
score the game's first points. Faced with a third-and-2, Jonathan
Crompton threw a screen intended for Gerald Jones, but instead it
ended up in the hands of Maxwell, who took his sixth interception
of the year 56 yards the other way.
"One guy can play his best game ever, but that still does not
mean the team is going to win," Maxwell said. "I knew I got a
good play, but there is more than one good play to make a game."
Tennessee quickly quieted the sellout crowd at Commonwealth
Stadium, taking less than 1 minute and three plays to tie the game.
Crompton, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 220 yards, connected
with Jones for a 30-yard timing play, then Denarius Moore picked up
21 more on a reverse. Hardesty, who topped his career-high 171
yards set a week ago against Vanderbilt, finished the brief drive
by using a spin move for a 9-yard TD run, his first of the game.
"I think our team really responds to adversity," Crompton
said. "It shows we have confidence in each other. We are starting
to click and get better."
Kentucky had no answer early for Hardesty, who also scored from
13 yards out, and Tennessee couldn't seem to slow Cobb, the
Wildcats' do-everything playmaker.
On one scoring drive, running plays by Cobb - normally a
receiver - accounted for six of Kentucky's nine snaps, including a
17-yard end-around that pushed Kentucky's lead to 14-7.
Cobb even threw Kentucky's longest pass - a 31-yarder to Chris
Matthews - although that drive was stopped short by a Morgan Newton
Cobb also had a 43-yard kickoff return that helped set up
Derrick Locke's 1-yard TD run, which put the Wildcats up 21-14.
Tennessee had a chance to chip away at that lead, but Chad
Cunningham missed a 49-yard field goal just before halftime.
Tennessee 7 7 10 0 6 -30
Kentucky 14 7 0 3 0 -24
Ky-Maxwell 56 interception return (Seiber kick), 10:41.
Tenn-Hardesty 9 run (D.Mathis kick), 9:34.
Ky-R.Cobb 17 run (Seiber kick), :07.
Tenn-Hardesty 13 run (D.Mathis kick), 3:54.
Ky-Locke 1 run (Seiber kick), :39.
Tenn-Stocker 16 pass from Crompton (D.Mathis kick), 3:40.
Tenn-FG D.Mathis 30, :44.
Ky-FG Seiber 23, :33.
Tenn-Hardesty 20 run.
First downs 22 13
Rushes-yards 47-226 38-161
Passing 220 100
Comp-Att-Int 13-23-1 11-25-0
Return Yards 0 74
Punts-Avg. 5-45.8 7-42.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 2-24 6-64
Time of Possession 32:37 27:23
RUSHING-Tennessee, Hardesty 39-179, Moore 1-21, Crompton 4-18,
B.Brown 3-8. Kentucky, R.Cobb 18-101, Conner 3-28, Locke 11-22,
Newton 5-9, Allen 1-1.
PASSING-Tennessee, Crompton 13-23-1-220. Kentucky,
Newton 10-22-0-69, R.Cobb 1-3-0-31.
RECEIVING-Tennessee, Jones 5-113, Stocker 5-78, Hardesty 2-11,
Moore 1-18. Kentucky, R.Cobb 4-24, Locke 3-33, Matthews 2-38, Allen 1-3,
KENTUCKY POSTGAME NOTES
Final Score: Tennessee 30, Kentucky 24 (OT)
November 28, 2009 * Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
Team Records and Series Notes
Kentucky is 7-5 overall, 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee is 7-5 overall, 4-4 in league play.
Tennessee leads the series, 73-23-9. The Volunteers have won 25 in a row.
UK is now 2-4 all-time in overtime games; 2-3 in overtime games at Commonwealth Stadium.
The last overtime game UK played was two years ago in Lexington (11/24/07), also against Tennessee. The Volunteers won the game in four overtimes 52-50.
Attendance for tonight’s game was 70,981, the sixth-largest crowd in Commonwealth Stadium history.
Kentucky set the season attendance record for the third-consecutive year. UK averaged 69,594 per game. The previous record was 69,434 fans per game in 2008.
Senior Day ceremonies were held before the game, honoring 27 Wildcats.
Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats await a bowl bid, which would be a school-record fourth-consecutive bowl game.
UK Team Notes
Kentucky has a 15-10 record in the last 25 games decided by 10 points or less.
The last Kentucky player to return an interception for a TD prior to Sam Maxwell’s 56-yarder was Randall Burden vs. ULM on Oct. 24, 2009 earlier this season.
Kentucky has returned three “picks for six” this season which is the most since returning three interceptions for TDs in 1974.
UK has intercepted a pass in eight straight games and 10 of 12 contests this season.
Kentucky has scored at least 20 points in 11 of its 12 games this season, matching a mark set in the 1998 season.
UK went 3-of-3 from the red zone in the game, scoring three touchdowns. On the year, UK has converted 36 of 43 opportunities (83.7 percent) this season for 231 points (31 touchdowns, seven field goals, three missed field goals, three loss on downs, two turnovers one end of half).
1st Quarter Summary
UK’s Sam Maxwell intercepted UT’s Jonathan Crompton for a 56-yd TD (10:41);
It was the sixth interception for Maxwell this season and first TD of his career
Maxwell now has seven career interceptions, including 4 in the last 5 games. UK 7, UT 0
UT’s Jonathan Crompton completed a 30-yd pass to Gerald Jones (10:21)
UT’s Denarius Moore rushed for 21 yards (9:45)
UT’s Montario Hardesty rushed for a nine yard TD (9:34); UK 7, UT 7
UK’s Randall Cobb converted a 4th and 1 at the UT 31 with a 3-yd rush (2:33)
UK’s Randall Cobb rushed for a 17-yard TD (0:07); UK 14, UT 7
It was Cobb’s 10th rushing touchdown this season and 17th of his career
2nd Quarter Summary
UK’s John Conner rushed for 17 yards to the UK 46 on 3rd and 1 (12:09)
UK’s Ryan Tydlacka punted for 46 yards to the UT 4 yard line (11:08)
UK’s Randall Cobb completed a 31-yd pass to Chris Matthews (9:13)
UT’s Wes Brown caused a fumble by UK’s Morgan Newton at the UT 34 (7:29)
UT’s Jonathan Crompton completed an 18-yd pass to Denarius Moore (5:52)
UT’s Montario Hardesty rushed for a 14-yd TD (3:54); UK 14, UT 14
It was Hardesty ‘second rushing TD of the game
UK’s Randall Cobb returned the kickoff 43 yards to the UT 40
UK’s Morgan Newton completed a 15-yd screen pass to Derrick Locke to the UT 7 (1:04)
UK’s Derrick Locke rushed for a 1-yd TD (0:39); UK 21, UT 14
It was the sixth rushing TD of the season for Locke and the 12th of his career
UT’s Devin Mathis missed a 49-yard field goal (0:03)
3rd Quarter Summary
UT’s Jonathan Crompton completed a 39-yd pass to Gerald Jones to the UK 9 (11:48)
UT’s Jonathan Crompton was stopped on 4th and goal from the UK 1 (10:11)
UK’s Corey Peters made the tackle on the goal-line stop
UT’s Jonathan Crompton passed for a 16-yd TD to Luke Stocker (3:40); UK 21, UT 21
UT’s Rico McCoy caused a fumble by UK’s Randall Cobb at the UK 28 (3:21)
UT’s Devin Mathis made a 30-yard field goal (0:44); UT 24, UK 21
4th Quarter Summary
UT’s Janzen Jackson sacked UK’s Morgan Newton for a loss of 11 (12:38)
UK’s Ashton Cobb caused a fumble by UT’s Luke Stocker which was recovered by UK’s Taylor Wyndham at the UT 37-yard line (2:21)
UK’s Lones Seiber connected on a 23-yard field goal (0:33); UK 24, UT 24
End of regulation; UK 24, UT 24
1st Overtime Summary
Wildcats started on offense.
UK’s Lones Seiber missed a 49-yard field goal wide left.
UT’s Montario Hardesty rushed for a 20-yard touchdown. UT 30, UK 24
UK Individual Notes
Locke gained 22 yards and on the ground and rushed for a touchdown in the game. He now has 1,667 yards in his career and ranks 13th on the all-time rushing list. He needs 20 more to tie Ivy Joe Hunter (1985-88) for 12th place.
Micah Johnson totaled a career-high 16 tackles, giving him six double-digit performances this season and 10 for his career.
Johnson’s 16-tackle effort is the most by a Wildcat since Wesley Woodyard posted 17 tackles against Arkansas two seasons ago (9/22/07).
Randall Cobb has scored 15 touchdowns this season and at least one TD in 14 of 22 career games. Cobb has scored a touchdown in the last eight games he has played in this season.
Cobb rushed for 101 yards on 18 carries to lead the team and ran for a touchdown. It marked his second career game over 100 yards on the ground.
Cobb led the Cats in receiving with four catches totaling 24 yards and also completed a 31-yard pass to Chris Matthews in the second quarter.
Sam Maxwell’s sixth pick of the season tied him for third all-time for interceptions in a season.
Trevard Lindley made a season-high seven tackles in his final game at Commonwealth Stadium.
Taylor Wyndham recovered his first career fumble in the fourth quarter that led to UK’s game-tying drive.
DeQuin Evans made two tackles-for-loss tonight, including a sack. Evans leads the team in both categories with six sacks and 12.5 TFL this season.