LEXINGTON, Ky. - Quarterback Curtis Pulley scrambled 17 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 1:06 remaining to give the White squad a 23-22 victory at the annual Kentucky Blue/White game Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Stadium.
With 8,500 Big Blue fans looking on, the game was played in a regular-season format. The evenly-matched teams were chosen through a draft earlier in the week. Defensive coordinator Steve Brown was head coach of the White squad while Wildcat offensive coordinator Joker Phillips was the head coach of the Blue team.
The White team orchestrated a 60-yard touchdown drive as Curtis Pulley completed two passes to senior Dicky Lyons of eight and 23 yards, respectively, before finishing it off with a 17-yard scramble for the one-point lead with 1:04 remaining in the contest. Coach Brown called for a two-point conversion but Pulley's rush to the left failed as he was tackled just short of the goal.
Blue team quarterback Mike Hartline came back with a drive in the final minute of the game which put his team into scoring position. Hartline scrambled for 22 yards to the White 37-yard line, then ran twice more to the White 28. Lones Seiber, who made two field goals earlier, saw his 46-yard attempt miss on the game's final play.
Lyons led all receivers with 148 yards, including a spectacular 12-yard touchdown grab from Pulley just before the half. Lyons sprinted down the sideline for another score with a 57-yard touchdown from sophomore quarterback Will Fidler in the third quarter. Sophomore Kyrus Lanxter led the Blue receivers with three catches for 59 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass from Hartline.
Junior running back Alfonso Smith shined on the field for the Blue squad. He had 196 all-purpose yards, while rushing for 170 yards on 20 carries that included a 43-yard run early in the second half.
Battling for the starting quarterback position this fall, Pulley and Hartline's passing stats were mirror images of each other. Pulley went 12-of-26 for 134 yards and one touchdown strike while Hartline threw 124 yards with 11 completions in 28 attempts and a score of his own. Each quarterback rushed for a touchdown, threw an interception and was sacked once. Pulley was the leading rusher on for the White team with 82 yards on 15 carries. Hartline also showed an ability to pick up positive yardage on the ground and finished the game with 38 yards on nine attempts.
The team statistics were as even as the final score. The White team gained 378 total yards with 20 first downs, while the Blue team totaled 380 yards and 18 first downs. The White team gained the most through the air netting 228 yards to the Blue's 124. The Blue team offset the White squad's air attack with an advantage on the ground led by Smith, outgaining the opponent 256 to 140 yards. In the red zone, both teams were a perfect three-for-three in scoring chances.
Senior linebacker Braxton Kelly led all tacklers with 12 and also had an interception for the Blue team. For the White squad, junior linebacker Sam Maxwell tallied nine tackles, including one for loss.
The Blue team struck first in the game with 22-yard field goal from Seiber at 11:51 to take an early 3-0 lead. Playing for both squads, Seiber countered for the White team with a 38-yard successful attempt to knot the score at 3-3.
The Blue squad added another field goal in the second quarter with a 42-yard boot from freshman Ryan Tydlacka to regain the lead 6-3.
The White unit re-took the lead just before halftime, 10-6. Pulley led an 83-yard drive, capped with a spectacular one-hand diving catch by Lyons for the 12-yard touchdown.
The Blue team went ahead in the third quarter with a 25-yard field goal by J. J. Housley, followed by a 25-yard touchdown pass from Hartline to Lanxter.
The White squad bounced back immediately when Lyons caught a short pass from quarterback Will Fidler and found an opening down the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown. Seiber's extra point gave the White a 17-16 advantage at the end of three quarters.
The back-and-forth continued in the final quarter of action. Hartline pushed his team 60 yards, capped by his own two-yard touchdown run, to elevate Blue to a 22-17 lead with 4:20 remaining in the game. That set the stage for Pulley's final drive and game-winning touchdown run.
Today's Blue/White Game concluded spring practice for the Kentucky football team. The Wildcats will have strength and conditioning workouts in June and July, then return to the practice field in August. Kentucky's quest for a third-consecutive bowl game begins when the Wildcats open the 2008 season on Aug. 31 at Louisville.