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Sports Notes: Wildcats hang on for close win, but it looks like a short honeymoon for Stoops

Patrick Towles connected on 16 of 34 passes with three touchdowns, but he was just six of 16 and no scores in the final two quarters (UK Athletics Photo)

Patrick Towles connected on 16 of 34 passes with three touchdowns, but he was just six of 16 and no scores in the final two quarters (UK Athletics Photo)


It took about four hours Saturday for the mood of the Big Blue Nation to take a dramatic turn downward.

A hard-earned sellout crowd of 62,933 roared when Boom Williams took the very first offensive play at the New CWS 75 yards for a touchdown. BBN began to think this could be a special season when the Wildcats roared out to a 21-0 lead en route to a 24-7 cushion at halftime.

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Sure, the opponent was Louisiana Lafayette, a team from the Sunbelt Conference. But the Rajin’ Cajuns had won nine games in each of their last four seasons and were nobody’s pushover. Keep that in mind.

The crowd continued to celebrate the return of football to the Bluegrass in the second half when Kentucky went up 33-10 in the third quarter on a Patrick Towles pass with just under four minutes on the clock. Let the rout and the celebration begin. Towles’ redshirt junior year would be special indeed.

Kentucky missed the extra point and before you could say “when does basketball season start,” Louisiana Lafayette scored 23 points in a row to tie the game at 33-33 with just over seven minutes to play. When Towles mishandled a snap on fourth down, the Twitter universe lit up and that splashing sound you heard was some of the members of BBN jumping off the ship.

It should be noted that not only did Towles recover his bobble, he converted the first down and went on to lead the Cats to a last-minute touchdown (scored by Mikel Horton) and pull the Cats’ fat from the fire. No matter how many style points were awarded for the win, Kentucky woke up Sunday morning with a 1-0 record.

Think Bobby Petrino an and Louisville Cardinals would take that?

But back to Twitter. About 10:45 p.m. Saturday, as the UK-ULL game approached an almost unbearable four hours, the negativity was in full swing.

“How many days until basketball season,” Tweeted one supposed fan. “Towles just doesn’t have it,” said another. “We need to get Drew Barker ready or this season will end just like last year,” said another.

“Same old Towles from the second half of last year,” one fan weighed in. And my favorite: “New CWS, same old Cats.”

That, my friends, was a very short honeymoon.

“I could not be more proud of this football team the way they hung in there and played a hard-fought game,” said Mark Stoops after the game. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Just the overall day, that is the big thing. Let’s not kid ourselves, we have been building for this moment for a couple of years with the stadium and the anticipation and the fans and just an improved football team. We are an improved football team. I know it didn’t always show out there tonight, but that’s why you play. It’s an opener. It’s a start.”

It says here that the fast-striking Cats left their defense on the field too long Saturday and fatigue set in over the final two quarters. ULL switched up its quarterback and ratcheted up its running game and put some points on the board. The Cats are more like the team we watched soar in the first half than the reeling squad we saw over the final 30 minutes.

A win Saturday over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina and obviously, all will be forgiven.

But it sure didn’t take long for the bloom to come off the rose at the New CWS. CWS may be new, but the old doubters remain in force.

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Although school has already started, Western Kentucky managed to add a national top-100 player in Taylor Brown to the program for the upcoming season.

Brown, a 6-0 wing player from Paterson, N.J., will be a freshman with four years of eligibility remaining. She originally signed with Clemson and is rated a top-100 recruit in the nation by multiple outlets and the No. 16 post player in the nation by ESPN.com.

“Taylor is an athletic forward who can really help us do a lot of different things both on defense and on offense in our system,” Michelle Clark-Heard said. “We are excited to add an amazing young lady and a player of her caliber to our program.”

WKU posted a 30-5 mark in 2014-15, setting a new Conference USA record for wins in a season and posting the second 30-win season in Lady Topper history.

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Morehead State’s women’s basketball team also recently announced two additions to this year’s roster.

Alexis Bailey, a 5-6 guard from Leesburg, Va., and Georgia Campbell, a 6-1 power forward from Brampton, Ontario, bring the roster to a total of 12 for head coach Greg Todd.

Bailey left her mark as a high school athlete, becoming the first player to score 1,000 points and the first from Tuscarora High School to sign with a Division I program. She played a vital role her senior season, helping Tuscarora reach a 22-4 record and an appearance in the VHSL 5A state semifinal.

Campbell averaged a double-double (15.0 ppg/12.0 rpg) her senior season at St. Roch Catholic Secondary School. For her performance, she received the Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Contributions to Athletics Awards from St. Roch. Todd said she will provide size for the Eagles, being one of three players to check in over six-feet tall.

Bailey and Campbell join fellow signees Miranda Crockett, Brianna McQueen, Kay Kay Tate, and Haley-Sue Foutch. Foutch and Crockett are incoming freshmen, while Tate and McQueen are transfers.

MSU also put the final touches on its 2015-16 women’s basketball schedule, which features 14 non-conference tilts and an Ohio Valley Conference schedule that begins on Jan. 2.

The 30-game schedule features 12 contests at Johnson Arena, headlined by Marshall on Friday, Nov. 13. The Eagles will visit the cities of Lexington, Chicago, Atlanta, and Santa Barbara, Calif.

MSU will begin with a exhibition on Nov. 5 against Coach Todd’s previous team, the Division III Transylvania Pioneers. The regular season schedule begins with home games against Marshall and Kentucky Christian in the Mickey Wells Classic, followed by a trip to Kentucky on Nov. 18. The Eagles’ first road trip comes to a close on Nov. 21 in Atlanta against Georgia State.

In late November, they begin a five-game road at Chicago State on Nov. 28 and then go to Miami (OH) on Nov. 29. They then travel to 2015 WNIT runner-up West Virginia on Dec. 2, Lipscomb on Dec. 5, and wrap the trip at Southern Illinois on Dec 12.

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