On This Date in Sports: November 9, 2002: Bluegrass Miracle

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

Kentucky ends up all wet, as LSU wins 33-30 on a Hail Mary at Commonwealth Stadium. Trailing 24-14 early in the fourth quarter, Kentucky rallies and takes a 30-27 lead with 11 seconds left. Fans of the Wildcats prepare to run on to the field as coach Guy Morriss is doused with Gatorade. With two seconds left, LSU quarterback Marcus Randall fires up a pass that is tipped up three times and lands in the arms of Devery Henderson, who scores to win the game for LSU.

 

As the 21st Century began, Kentucky was a football program looking to find its way as they were riddled with sanctions that made them ineligible for postseason play. The penalties were a result of payments to recruits from their previous coach Hal Mumme. They had not been ranked in nearly 20 years but were having a solid season under second-year coach Guy Morriss. After a pair of 2-9 seasons, the Wildcats held a record of 5-3 as they hosted #16 LSU. The Tigers, coached by Nick Saban, entered the game with a record of 6-2.

 

Kentucky got off to a good start as Jared Lorenzen gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Boone in the first quarter. LSU responded with a pair of touchdowns from Marcus Randall to Devery Henderson in the second quarter. The Tigers extended the lead to 21-7 as Joseph Addai broke off a 63-yard run at the start of the third quarter. Lorenzen got Kentucky back in the game with a three-yard touchdown pass to Chase Harp. 

 

After Lorenzen’s second touchdown pass, LSU remained in control as John Corbello hit a 49-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to stretch the Bayou Bengals lead to 24-14. However, Kentucky showed no quit as Jared Lorenzen responded with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Boone with ten minutes left. Kentucky missed the PAT and appeared to be shooting themselves in the foot at the most inopportune times. Following a three and out from LSU, Derek Abney muffed a punt and gave the Tigers a chance to put the game away. However, the Tigers offense stalled as they settled for a Corbello chip shot to hold a 27-20 lead. 

 

With 2:44 left, Kentucky tied the game a Jared Lorenzen connected with Aaron Boone on a 44-yard touchdown pass. It was the third touchdown from Lorenzen during the game. The LSU offense was unable to move the ball again and punted out of their own end zone. This time Derek Abney made the big play for Kentucky returning a punt to the LSU 31-yard line.  Taylor Begley had hit a 29-yard field goal with 11 seconds to give Kentucky a 30-27 lead.

 

It was a party atmosphere in Kentucky, and fans prepared to rush the field. LSU was reeling as they began their last gasp drive on their own nine with eight seconds left. Marcus Randall made a pass to Michael Clayton down to the 26. Assuming the clock would run out, Kentucky players doused coach Guy Morriss with Gatorade. However, the Tigers had a timeout and used it to set up one last miracle play—Randall heaved the ball down the field to Devery Henderson, who was surrounded by Wildcat defenders. The ball was deflected three times and ended up in Henderson’s hands. Henderson ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown to win the game for LSU. Fans in the opposite end zone, unaware of the touchdown, still rushed the field as Kentucky walked off the field in stunned disbelief. 

 

After their 33-30 win, LSU struggled the rest of the way, losing three of their final four games, including the Cotton Bowl against Texas, to post a record of 8-5. Kentucky took the loss in stride and finished at 7-5, splitting their final two games.