Lindley's big plays made a big difference in upset
By C.L. Brown
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- University of Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley's two big second-half plays were probably overlooked by many spectators during the drama of a three-overtime victory last night.
But the way UK linebacker Braxton Kelley sees things, the No. 17 Wildcats wouldn't have pulled off their shocking 43-37 upset of No. 1 Louisiana State without a key tackle and an interception by Lindley.
LSU faced a third-and-14 from its 27 on the final play of the third quarter. Tigers quarterback Matt Flynn threw a screen pass in the flat to running back Jacob Hester.
The only thing separating Hester from a first down -- at the least -- and a 20-plus-yard gain were Lindley and a lineman.
Cats make their own miracles after long wait
LEXINGTON, Ky. — This time the Kentucky-Louisiana State game did not end on a miracle tipped pass. This time it ended with a miraculously smothering tackle.
This time Kentucky did not disappear when it slipped behind Louisiana State by two touchdowns. This time Kentucky reacted by staying directly in LSU's mug.
This time the Commonwealth Stadium fireworks did not go off prematurely. This time the fireworks signaled that thanks to coach Rich Brooks' gritty group of football players, America is officially looking for a new No. 1 football team — and needs to welcome UK back into the Top 10.
The past no longer defines this University of Kentucky team. The glowing Commonwealth Stadium scoreboard defines this UK football team:
LSU's national championship hopes are in doubt this evening, but no one's questioning the credentials of the Kentucky Wildcats anymore.
After a bowl victory last December, followed by a solid start to the 2007 season, the Wildcats had become a nice feel-good story under coach Rich Brooks and quarterback Andre Woodson. Big Blue cracked the top 25, gained a boatload of national publicity, and shed its longtime pansy status in the Southeastern Conference. That kind of resurgence — especially at a basketball school — qualifies as a substantial accomplishment in its own right.
For all of the 'Cats' conquests, however, the lads in Lexington had not yet made the death-defying leap that most college football outfits fail to make: the abyss-crossing, perception-shattering, barrier-busting step of vaulting from "nice feel-good story" status to "elite team, period." The distance between 8-4 and 10-2 in the college football world is not akin to a city block; it's more like the Grand Canyon.
Many teams will register "nice, feel-good" seasons on a consistent basis and be satisfied. Those who aspire to be elite, however, must possess enormous hungers not belonging to most mortals, for it is only from uncommon resolve that special accomplishments are forged. It is only from otherworldly levels of commitment that elite teams are born.
Kentucky Head Coach Rich Brooks
“Micah Johnson hurt his shoulder in the first half and we had to take him out on that last stop that we had. I think Braxton (Kelley) actually made the tackle on that fourth down play. Micah’s shoulder’s not real good. Tony Dixon’s hip flared up again. Andre’ Woodson took a shot on the touchdown pass in the ribs.”
On the win…
“I just can’t say enough about these young men. Whenever it starts to look dark, that’s when they dig down and find something extra. They did it again tonight. They did it in first half, did it after LSU went up by 13 in the third quarter and they certainly did it in the overtime. I can’t say enough about our defense and the way they stepped up in the overtime. The way we stayed with their receivers, covered them and rushed the passer. I’m so very, very proud of this football team. Obviously this is a very, very significant win to go to 2-1 in the league. We’ve got another difficult game with Florida coming up here. We’ll take a little time I’m sure to heal up some of our bumps and bruises, but we look forward to getting this place rocking again. I want to thank the fans for sticking with us in that game and making a lot of noise and being a factor. It looks like Mitch will have to pay another fine. I guess that’s become a little bit of a habit.”
On the play of his team…
“The guts and the backbone and the character to keep coming back when things didn’t look good, particularly in the third quarter when they came out and got up by 15. They were going through us and we weren’t doing much. All of a sudden, we come back and start making plays. I can’t say enough about the guts and the character of this football team. That was a heck of a football team we beat out there tonight. You’re probably not going to get a much better game than that and it ended in our favor so our fans could enjoy it. Maybe that’s payback for the one that got away.
“I’m just a lucky guy to be coaching a special group of young men that have really battled through more than you can imagine to get to this point.
With top-ranked Louisiana State visiting on a sun-splashed day that saw the bourbon bottles being tipped in the parking lot long before kickoff, the Wildcats had the perfect setting for a once-in-a-generation upset.
And as dusk and then darkness settled on Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night and the overtimes kept piling up, that idyllic setting turned into a stunning reality. A season filled with epic upsets and fantastic finishes got an indelible addition, as No. 17 Kentucky toppled top-ranked L.S.U., 43-37, in three overtimes.
The Wildcats may have pulled off the season’s most important upset, landing the them in the same elite company as upstarts Appalachian State and Stanford after their victories over Michigan and Southern California.