Sunday, October 10, 1999

UK 30, South Carolina 10

Defense again comes up big for SEC win

The Associated Press

        COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kentucky coach Hal Mumme doesn't sugar-coat things, even when his team wins by 20.

        Asked if his offense was less sharp than usual in the Wildcats' 30-10 victory over South Carolina on Saturday, Mumme was blunt.

        “That's being kind. We were really bad,” Mumme said. “Thank goodness for the defense.”

        The Wildcats (4-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) gained their second fewest offensive yards this season (337), wasted two drives inside South Carolina's 10 and were pretty much knocked off stride by the Gamecocks (0-6, 0-4).

        “We never got into a rhythm today,” said quarterback Dusty Bonner, who threw for a touchdown and ran for another. “We made a lot of stupid mistakes. I made some throws that I should have put more air under.”

        The Gamecocks extended Division I's longest losing streak to 16 and etched more worry lines into coach Lou Holtz's face. Never before in 28 years of coaching has Holtz gone this deep into a season without winning.

        For a change, it was Kentucky's defense that saved the game. “They played really well,” Mumme said. “That's why we got an SEC win on the road.”

        The Gamecocks fumbled twice inside their 35, both times resulting in UK touchdowns. Eric Kelly's interception set up Bonner's 27-yard TD throw to Brad Pyatt.

        Bonner finished 23-of-34 for 263 yards. It was only the second time this season that Bonner was held to fewer than three touchdown passes.

        Kentucky tight end James Whalen had nine catches for 119 yards.

        The Wildcats defense got things going. Marlon McCree forced a fumble by South Carolina fullback Andrew Pinnock at his 5-yard line, and safety Anthony Wajda returned it for a touchdown to put the Wildcats up 13-3.

        On South Carolina's next drive, Kelly picked off Mikal Goodman and returned it 29 yards to the Gamecocks 27. Four plays later, Bonner found Pyatt and it was 20-3.

        “We didn't feel like we played as good as we could have,” Whalen said.

        Mumme, who took the Wildcats to a bowl game last year, and Bonner have answered a lot of questions about thriving without NFL star-in-waiting Tim Couch. But while Kentucky has piled up the points, it also has given them away in bunches.

        This time, UK held the Gamecocks to nine first downs and 55 yards rushing.

        “This shows the defense is finally coming together like we thought it was going to be at the beginning,” Wildcats linebacker Jeff Snedegar said.

        South Carolina again struggled with a young, banged-up offense.

        “This is just difficult,” said Holtz, who at times played seven freshmen on offense. “But that's all we have.”

        The Gamecocks were held to 38 yards in the first half. Holtz subbed freshman quarterback Goodman with little-used backup Kyle Crabb for much of the third quarter. They had 78 yards of offense with nine minutes to go in the game when Goodman completed a 78-yard TD pass to Kerry Hood — South Carolina's longest play in four years.


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