Unhappy homecoming

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Sunday, September 30, 2007

LEXINGTON, KY. Before Saturday's game between Florida Atlantic and Kentucky, Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger smiled when he looked up and saw his name on Commonwealth Stadium's ring of honor for retired jerseys of former Wildcats.

At the end of the game, Schnellenberger wasn't smiling when he looked up at the scoreboard that showed Kentucky had an easy time with FAU in a 45-17 victory in front of 65,927.


"It was a difficult game because we didn't challenge ... we didn't challenge," said Schnellenberger, who played for Kentucky from 1953-55.

The Schnellenberger tribute tour isn't faring so well for the Owls (3-2), who two years ago lost 61-10 at Louisville, where Schnellenberger coached from 1985-1994.

No. 14 Kentucky (5-0) scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and led 28-10 at halftime.

The Wildcats converted their first eight third-down conversions and didn't punt until five minutes remained in the game. Through three quarters Kentucky was 9-of-11 on third down and the two times they failed, they converted on fourth down.

"We gave up a lot of big plays that could have been the game," FAU senior defensive back Kris Bartels said. "Those plays could have been the difference."

Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson was 26-of-33 for 301 yards and threw four of his five touchdowns in the first half.

"We didn't really want to go for the big play and really we wanted to try and go underneath and take the short routes," Woodson said. "Some of the bigger plays came when we caught them in a man-to-man and were able to take advantage."

Woodson ran his NCAA-record streak of passes without an interception to 325 before he was picked off by FAU freshman Tavious Polo with 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Polo leads the nation in interceptions with seven.

"We had good first-down defense, good second-down defense but very poor third-down defense," Schnellenberger said. "When a team only punts once in a ball game that means they are in total control and they were."

Actually the Wildcats punted twice, but were firmly in control from start to finish. UK, which has won 10 of its past 11 games dating back to last season, is off to its best start since 1984.

It wasn't much better for FAU on offense as the Owls had 307 yards compared to UK's 514.

"You can't make mistakes and come out victorious against an SEC team," said FAU sophomore quarterback Rusty Smith, who was 15-of-25 for 184 yards and an interception. "You have to make big plays to win these games."

Smith had a second-quarter 20-yard touchdown pass to Cortez Gent and junior running back Charles Pierre added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

"I'm not sure we had our 'A' game today, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "On the other hand, we did a number of things that I can't be unhappy with what we