Dorian Baker does his best superman impression, saves UK from Colonels



By Joshua Huff

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By all accounts UK should’ve lost the game.

With 7:39 remaining in regulation, Devin Borders of Eastern Kentucky University caught his second touchdown of the night to put the Colonels up 27-13, seemingly dealing the fatal blow to a beleaguered Cats team.

“I’ll be honest,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said. “It wasn’t looking good. It really wasn’t.”

The difference for UK from there on out, however, was the missing sense of urgency that it found in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

“We were certainly going to fight and finish that game,” Stoops added.

Fight they did.

If not for the late-game heroics of Dorian Baker and a mammoth 19-tackle game from C.J. Johnson (the most tackles by a UK defensive lineman since 1991), UK would be tucking its tail and hightailing out of Commonwealth Stadium with arguably one of its worst program losses in recent memory.

With 52 seconds remaining in the game and facing a fourth and three, UK’s Patrick Towles saw Baker matched up one-on-one to his right and lofted a risky corner-pylon pass that Baker snagged with a defender draped all over to tie the game at 27-all.

“If we got a certain look we were going to give it to him, and they gave us the look,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said of the play that averted disaster.

Baker finished with eight receptions for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

In what turned out to be a drizzly, windy and downright nasty night, the decision to trust a struggling quarterback to pinpoint a fading receiver with the game on the line was as bold as a play call can be.

But it was the call that may define UK’s season.

“We had two places to go with the ball depending on what coverage they gave us,” Dawson continued. “They gave us the coverage and we went to the right place.”

Baker may not ever comprehend the crisis he helped avoid: a loss to an Football Championship Subdivision opponent that failed to score against NC State could’ve been potentially crippling for a UK team coming off its most impressive win since the South Carolina game last year.

The resiliency was welcome, but the ineptitude throughout a game that should have been valuable experience for backup Drew Barker was unnerving. Without Boom Williams (not suspended, but not playing) UK struggled to run the ball. The Cats gained 55 yards on 36 attempts. In laymen terms, UK nearly had more attempts than yards. Against EKU.

And Towles struggled once again. His rhythm of playing well one game and laying an egg the next continued. He was 29-for-42 for 329 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. His two touchdowns though came with five minutes remaining in the game, which is what teams want when the game is on the line.

But his performance throughout three-and-a-half quarters was paltry at best.

“I have to do a better job of coaching Patrick up during the course of the week,” Dawson said. “There was some things we could’ve taken advantage of but we didn’t.”

However, as those in the coaching sphere say: a win is a win is a win. Or as Stoops said, “A victory is a victory.”

The win is nice, but for a program on the rise, nearly losing to a lesser-talented, cross town rival on Homecoming night as terrifying as finding parking during UK’s Thursday night game against Auburn.

“I feel very fortunate to get the victory,” Stoops said. “That’s the word that jumps out at me right now. Give them credit. They coached better than we did, they played with greater energy and enthusiasm, executed better than we did, and fortunately we had some guys step up and make some plays late.”