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I Learned My Lesson Last Night: Never Give Up On This Team

© Denny Medley | USATSI

© Denny Medley | USATSI

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I opted to take in the first half of UK’s matchup with the Missouri Tigers inside the grandstand at Keeneland. Seating near one of the few TVs airing football instead of horse racing was hard to come by, but eventually, we settled into a corner table just as Chance Poore put the Cats on the board 3-0 early in the 1st quarter. A few pretzel bites and dollar bets later, I was watching in disgust as a bougie mob of apparent Mizzou fans gathered at the bar top table adjacent to ours. They reveled in Kentucky’s scoring woes, and were ecstatic when it seemed the Drew Lock led Tiger offense had cracked the elusive code of UK’s stifling defense leading up to halftime.

By that point, I had basically seen enough. Sure, the deficit was only 11, nothing if not surmountable, but I just couldn’t stomach watching the Cats stumble their way out of SEC East contention before they even got their proper opportunity against Georgia. As Keeneland’s Fall Meet came to a close, we left the track for dinner, even avoiding checking in on the game’s status via radio. Accept the loss now, I thought to myself, and the disappointment later will be much more tolerable.

It wasn’t until we were seated at the restaurant that I got my next update on the game: the Cats were now down only 5, and they had the ball. But before I could even entertain the idea of hope returning to my mind, Terry Wilson threw a deep interception, the Cats first turnover of the night. There it is, I thought. The nail in the proverbial coffin. UK’s defense did their job though, as usual, and the ball was back in Terry’s hands with less than 2 minutes to play. With 81 yards to go, I was still skeptical. Time wouldn’t allow for Old Reliable Benny Snell to handle the workload on this drive. Either Touchdown Terry would earn his nickname, or Kentucky would fall in Columbia.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the Cats were actually within reasonable scoring distance. The clock management was stellar, and Terry overcame a pair of sacks to lead UK down the field to the Mizzou 10 yard line. Now, the restaurant we were in was no KSBar, but there were still fans huddled beneath TV screens, teeth chattering as the offense got into formation. Once the pass interference call was made, the diners fell into a hush, most understanding that this final untimed down was for the whole enchilada (even though we were at a sushi joint).

The cheers and claps abounded when CJ Conrad snagged the game winning catch and tumbled through the end zone. I’d be willing to be that was the scene at pretty much every Lexington restaurant at that moment, though I’m sure KSBar was probably the loudest. It’s funny how quickly hope returns once momentum starts to fall back your way; once Lynn Bowden was able to scramble into the red zone and out of bounds, all my pessimism had left the building. I was able to enjoy that final play with the same fervor as if I had been glued to the screen all game long. I’m not great with chopsticks anyway, but after that play, it probably looked more like I was tracing cursive in the air than eating sushi with how much my hands were shaking.

Yet, I still feel a little guilty. I shouldn’t have given up so soon on a team that, thus far this season, has given the BBN very little reason to do so. I’m sure there are those of you out there who did the same. If so, I’d ask you to do exactly what I plan to on November 3rd: if you were lucky enough to get a ticket, go to Kroger Field and cheer like the season depends on it. If you’re staying home, if the game is still within reach, keep the faith. UK vs. UGA is set up to be among the most important games in Kentucky football history. I don’t plan to look away this time.

Oh, how I wish I could’ve seen those Keeneland-invading Mizzou fans’ faces just a couple hours later. They probably downed half the bourbon in the Bluegrass last night. What a time to be a Cats fan.


Article written by Jay Winkler

Avid fan of UK Athletics, WWE, and chicken wings. Preferably at the same time.

14 Comments for I Learned My Lesson Last Night: Never Give Up On This Team

  1. KYjellyRoll
    11:16 am October 28, 2018 Permalink

    I was so mad when the interception occurred I was ready to turn the tv off and go clean my basement. So glad I held onto hope

    • somerset bill
      12:55 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

      I turned off the TV after the interception but just as it was going off I heard “flag on the play”, so I turned it back on. The flag didn’t help but I didn’t turn it right back off and ended up watching to the end.

  2. BluKudzu
    11:23 am October 28, 2018 Permalink

    I had hope. If there was any doubt about the starting QB should be, that argument is over. More passing yards, and more TD passes than Drew Lock, the self proclaimed first round draft choice and future pro QB.

  3. BluemanGreen
    11:24 am October 28, 2018 Permalink

    Give your tickets to a real fan!!!

  4. KYjellyRoll
    11:43 am October 28, 2018 Permalink

    The playcalling along with wilsons ability to make himself attempt passes helped lots. Hoak was so rusty he couldn’t be effective. Other than letting terry watch and maybe Re evaluate himself a little. It made him a little more assertive in his passes

  5. Matt10
    12:38 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    I can admit a mistake. I missed the comeback because I got so disgusted with Gran’s play calling I turned it off. I didn’t realize they won until an hour after. Amazing those guys could overcome such pathetic play calls to pull out an historic win. I hope Gran brings his A game against Georgia. Heck I’ll take his B- game with these players.

  6. BluejayK
    12:40 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    Real fans don’t quit watching at half time.. I’ve finished watching games when we were down 30+ at half against the big boys, knowing damn well it would probably end up being 40-50 points at games end.

  7. Miller45
    12:57 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    Against all rationale

  8. az1006
    1:08 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    When the pick happened, I said, “Well, guess that’s it.” But I didn’t turn it off, because I knew the defense could, theoretically, get us another possession. And they did. And that’s that. Man, what a win.

  9. big cat
    2:00 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    I too was pretty disgusted…I ate me some crow…I’m competitive and want them to be successful…love the cats…wish them well next week…this team taught me a lesson.

  10. cats646
    2:26 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    I hate to admit it but when we threw that interception I said screw it. I didn’t turn the game off but I gave up hope. But then the KY defense happened and I was pumped again!! Go big blue!!!!!!!

  11. kuhlkat
    3:16 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    Fans can get disgusted. Real fans don’t turn the game off. Stick with the team thru thick and thin. Not just the good times.

    • ClutchCargo
      6:30 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

      Completely agree. Also, maybe don’t go to Keeneland to see and be seen when your team is fighting to keep their best season in decades going. smh

  12. thatukfanbourne
    6:45 pm October 28, 2018 Permalink

    The things I wanna say, I’ve been to every home game for 20 years. I’ve seen my fair share of heartbreakers, I’ve watched games on tv or traveled to games. For you to turn this off or to give up hope is not acceptable. How many times you turn a UK basketball game off? Either be a true fan or go on somewhere else