LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Blue team offense jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead and then held off a late second-half rally by the White team for a 28-23 victory at the annual Kentucky Blue/White game on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Stadium.
The game was played in a regular-season format in front of an impressive crowd of 20,200 Big Blue fans – second-largest on record for the spring game . The evenly-matched teams were chosen through a draft earlier in the week . Defensive coordinator Steve Brown was head coach of the Blue team and offensive head coach Joker Phillips was the head coach of the White squad.
The Blue team offense dominated the first quarter with two scoring drives of 93 and 54 yards, respectively, while the defense held the White squad to just two first downs and 40 yards on offense.
The Blue team opened the game on defense, holding the White team to a three-and-out series. On offense, Blue quarterback Will Fidler completed five of seven passes on the opening drive, including three completions to sophomore receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb's first two receptions of eight and 18 yards earned the team two crucial first downs on the drive. Fidler concluded the 12-play, 93-yard scoring drive with a 26-yard touchdown strike to Cobb to give the Blue squad a 7-0 lead.
On the next White team offensive series, the Blue defense struck again when All-America cornerback Trevard Lindley tipped a pass from White team quarterback Mike Hartline and sophomore strong safety Matt Lentz intercepted the ball and returned it seven yards to the White 31-yard line.
The White defense held firm, forcing the Blue team kicker Lones Seiber to attempt a 48-yard field goal that went wide left.
The Blue offense made good on its next offensive series as redshirt freshman running back Coshik (pronounced Co-SHEEK) Williams made his debut. Williams opened the drive with an eight-yard gain. He later finished off the 54-yard scoring drive on a four-yard touchdown run to give the Blue squad a 14-0 lead.
The White team had a chance to score towards the end of the first quarter but sophomore kicker Ryan Tydlacka pushed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide right.
In the second quarter, the White offense moved the ball to the Blue 35-yard line after Hartline connected with E.J. Adams for an 18-yard gain. On the next play, Blue redshirt freshman cornerback Rashaad Palmer recovered a loose ball on the right sideline and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Blue lead to 21-0.
The White offense responded after redshirt freshman E.J. Fields returned a Blue kickoff to the 50-yard line. After a few runs by Alfonso Smith and John Conner, Hartline connected with sophomore wideout Nick Melillo on a nine-yard touchdown pass midway through the quarter to cut the Blue lead to 21-7.
Sophomore defensive back Randall Burden made an interception for the White defense on a Fidler pass and returned it 17 yards to the Blue 47-yard line. The White team drove 42 yards to set up White team kicker Tydlacka for a successful 23-yard field goal, cutting the Blue lead to 11 points at the half, 21-10.
The Blue team opened the second half the same way it opened the first. On its second offensive series of the half, Blue running back Moncell Allen strung together a series of solid runs, highlighted by a 25-yard scamper up the middle of the field. Those runs set up a nine-yard touchdown reception for sophomore receiver Matt Roark from Fidler. The quick-strike four-play drive went 60 yards in just 1:47 to push the Blue lead to 28-10.
Sophomore linebacker Ronnie Sneed of the White defense recovered a fumble by Blue running back Williams at the Blue 44-yard but the White offense could not capitalize on the field position. Three plays later the Blue team got the ball back when redshirt freshman cornerback Mike Benton picked off a Hartline pass in the end zone.
On the next play, White team defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin recovered a bobbled snap by Blue reserve quarterback Ryan Phillippi at the Blue 20-yard line.
After a four-yard run by White team running back Trey Bowland, Hartline connected with Melillo in the end zone for the second time in the game. This time, Melillo pulled in a 16-yard touchdown reception to cut the Blue lead to 28-17 with under a minute to go in the third quarter.
The White team continued a comeback midway through the fourth quarter with a 75-yard scoring drive. Hartline completed five of six passes on the drive to move the ball to the Blue 18-yard line. The quarterback capped off the drive on the next play with an 18-yard run up the middle for a touchdown with 2:39 remaining. A two-point conversion failed to make the score 28-23.
Head Coach Rich Brooks called the game after the scoring drive to give the Blue team the five-point victory.
Randall Cobb led all receivers with 70 yards on four receptions, including his 26-yard touchdown grab from Fidler for the Blue squad. Running back Alfonso Smith led the White squad receivers with 54 yards on three catches while teammate Melillo hauled in four receptions for 43 yards, including two touchdowns.
Senior running back Moncell Allen led the ground attack for the Blue team gaining 96 yards on 16 carries. Fellow Blue running back Williams collected 56 yards on seven carries including a touchdown. Smith led the White team in rushing with 67 yards on 18 carries.
White team quarterback Hartline rebounded from a cold start to complete 17 passes on 33 attempts for 208 yards with two touchdowns. Fidler jump-started the Blue offense early and ended the game completing 10 of 24 pass attempts for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
The White team outgained their opponent with 305 total yards on 18 first downs. The Blue team totaled 268 yards and 14 first downs. The White team also gained the most through the air netting 208 yards to the Blue's 110. The Blue team offset the White squad's air attack with an advantage on the ground led by Allen, outgaining the opponent 158 to 97 yards.
Blue linebackers Danny Trevathan and Micah Johnson led everyone with 11 tackles apiece. The Blue defenders also sacked Hartline four times, led by a pair of sacks by sophomore defensive end Chandler Burden. Linebacker Sam Maxwell led the White defense with six tackles.
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 fourth-consecutive bowl game begins when the Wildcats open the 2009 season on Sept. 5 at the “Rumble at the River” against Miami (OH) in Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium.