The year was 2011. Kentucky Football was 4-7 entering the final game of the season against Tennessee. That same damn Tennessee team that had bested the Cats for 26 straight years.
With the Vols needing only one win to become bowl eligible and Kentucky missing their top two quarterbacks, Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith, it looked all too certain that the streak would extend to 27. But then, from the ashes rose Matt Roark… a wide receiver. Joker Phillips made the ridiculous decision to have someone, who had never played a collegiate snap under center, start at quarterback. And it worked.
Roark played a third-option quarterback’s perfect game. Manage the game, move the football, keep turnovers to a minimum and let the defense take care of the rest. He threw for 15 yards on 4-6 passing and no interceptions. He ran for 124 yards on 24 carries and no fumbles. On top of that, the defense stepped up holding Tyler Bray’s Volunteer offense to just 7 points.
The final score was 10-7, UK. The best consolation prize for another season ending without a bowl appearance. Normally, Kentucky fans storm the field after beating a 5-7 team, but this game just meant more. I bet every Kentucky fan can remember where they were when we broke the streak.
If Roark’s stat line sounds familiar, that’s because it should. It is eerily close to what Terry Wilson’s was against Vanderbilt last season.