Kentucky Downs Connecticut 45-14 After Struggling Early
Sept. 11, 1999
By TIM WHITMIRE
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Dusty Bonner threw for four touchdowns and ran for one as Kentucky overcame early struggles to beat Division I-AA Connecticut 45-14 on Saturday.
Two early fumbles by Kentucky's Anthony White and a 99-yard Connecticut touchdown drive that ate up most of the second quarter gave the Huskies (0-2) a brief 14-7 lead and had a handful of Commonwealth Stadium fans booing the Wildcats (1-1).
Kentucky drove for a touchdown just before the half, took the lead with a third-quarter field goal and poured on 28 points in the fourth quarter, finally wearing down Connecticut on both sides of the ball.
Apparently angered by the late scoring surge, Connecticut coach Randy Edsall left the field without shaking hands with Kentucky coach Hal Mumme.
"You saw what we did. That speaks for itself," Edsall said.
Bonner was 34-of-40 for 339 yards without an interception. He set a school record by completing 16 straight passes in the third and fourth quarters.
White rallied from his early turnovers to rush for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 39 receiving yards, including a 9-yard scoring pass from Bonner.
Connecticut's John Fitzsimmons caught 10 passes for 87 yards. Quarterback Brian Hoffmann was 15-of-29 for 123 yards and one touchdown, throwing one interception.
For most of three quarters, the game threatened to be the low point of Kentucky coach Hal Mumme's two-plus seasons in Lexington. One week after losing the opener to Louisville 56-28, the Wildcats looked clumsy and ineffective against fired-up Connecticut.
Kentucky opened with a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive which finished with a 3-yard pass from Bonner to James Whalen, the tight end's fourth touchdown in two games.
Connecticut went three-and-out on its first possession, but a 71-yard punt by Mike Morelli pinned the Wildcats on their 1. On the first play, White lost control of the ball as he tried to dive forward out of the end zone.
Recovering on the 6, Connecticut tied the game immediately, with Hoffmann finding fullback John Taxiltaridis for the touchdown.
White's second fumble killed another Kentucky drive, and the score was still tied when a Kentucky punt was downed at the Connecticut 1 with 11:41 left in the half.
It took 20 plays, three converted third downs and two first downs on Kentucky penalties for the Huskies to march downfield, eating up nearly 10 minutes. When Taber Small bulled 9 yards into the end zone with 1:42 left in the half, it was 14-7 Huskies.
Kentucky responded with a quick eight-play drive, tying it just before the half on a 6-yard pass from Bonner to Quentin McCord.
Marc Samuels' 21-yard field goal field goal with 2:05 left in the third quarter gave the Wildcats a 17-14 lead before Kentucky's school-record four fourth-quarter touchdowns turned the game into a rout.
The first was set up by a bad Connecticut punt, and the second by safety Anthony Wajda's 14-yard interception return to the Connecticut 22. White went 9 yards on a catch-and-run to put Kentucky up 31-14 with 9:02 left.