Remembering the 'Bluegrass Miracle'
Play lives on 5 years later
By SCOTT RABALAIS
Published: Oct 10, 2007
Has it really been five years? Has it really been that long that the name “Bluegrass Miracle” has been part of the LSU sports lexicon?
When the No. 1-ranked LSU Tigers travel to Lexington on Saturday (2:30 p.m., CBS) to take on No. 17 Kentucky, it will be their first game in Commonwealth Stadium since that famous play.
The date: Nov. 9, 2002.
The call: A play called Dash Right 93 Berlin.
The result: His team trailing 30-27 with :02 left, LSU quarterback Marcus Randall took a shotgun snap from his 25, rolled right and heaved a pass with all his might from the Tigers 18.
Inside the Kentucky 30, four LSU wide receivers and six Kentucky defensive backs converged trying to create or stop the impossible.
First the ball went through the hands of Kentucky’s Morris Lane at the 24. The added forward motion propelled it through the hands of UK’s Earven Flowers, from where it hit the outstretched right hand of LSU’s Devery Henderson near the UK 19.
Henderson, who forgot his assignment was to be in front and not behind the play, pulled the ball into his chest near the 15. At about the 10, UK’s Derek Tatum got his fingers on Henderson’s left knee but he broke free, sailing into the end zone — and into LSU sports immortality.
The Tigers practiced that play every week, but it never worked once — until it had to.
“How could you figure something like that?” Henderson wondered. “All I remember was bobbling the ball and pulling it in, then running like hell.”
Five years is an eternity in college football. The LSU and Kentucky players from that day have all left the scene. Both schools have new head coaches, though both LSU’s Les Miles and Kentucky’s Rich Brooks said they made a point to watch video of the play once they got their current jobs.
Television announcer Dave Neal called the game that day for Jefferson Pilot Sports. Now the play-by-play man for Lincoln Financial Sports, Jefferson Pilot’s successor, he said he is still asked about that play more than any he’s ever called.
“I’m doing a radio show in Atlanta and they say, ‘Dave, there’s something we want you to hear,’ and they roll audio of that game,” Neal said. “I’m proud that I was part of it.”
“Randall as time expires lets it fly … Oh my goodness! Touchdown LSU! They win the game! They win the football game! … The most shocking, improbable, unbelievable sequence of events. LSU will go home with the victory 33-30 as Kentucky fans tear down a goal post.”
LSU senior defensive end Kirston Pittman, a teammate of Henderson’s in 2003 and Randall’s in 2003-04, didn’t see it live but watched the highlights. He spins the instant replay in his mind.
“The way Marcus scrambled a little, a big tip and Devery runs it in. That was bananas,” Pittman said.
Pittman knows the pain the Kentucky players must have felt. He was on the losing end of such a play in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, when Iowa sent former LSU coach Nick Saban out a loser with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway as time expired.
“You work hard all week and think you have the game in the bag on the last play,” Pittman said. “Then someone goes out and makes a great play like Devery and Marcus. It hurts the team as a whole, not just the defense.”
Sophomore running back Keiland Williams watched the play from his living room in Lafayette. That season while playing at Northside High he helped create his team’s own Bluegrass Miracle against Early Doucet’s St. Martinville High team.
Northside’s quarterback was hurt so Tyson Andrus, now an LSU sophomore defensive back, took over. With :13 left on the clock, Andrus lofted a 70-yard touchdown pass to Williams for the winning score.
“It was weird,” Williams said. “They didn’t have help over the top of the safety. The cornerback was playing man press. So I ran a fly route and Tyson put it right on the money.”
Kevin Steltz, the older brother of senior strong safety Craig Steltz, was an LSU freshman in 2002. Steltz was one of the Tigers in the end zone Saturday trying to prevent a Gators miracle with seconds left and LSU clinging to a 28-24 lead.
Five LSU defensive backs were there, some to block out the Florida receivers (two were in the back of the end zone). Curtis Taylor and Chad Jones were assigned to jump and knock the ball to the turf, which Jones did as time ran out.
“I felt we had it well defended,” cornerback Jonathan Zenon said. “I was very assured Chad and Curtis had enough height to get up and knock it down.”
As memorable as the Bluegrass Miracle was, Zenon doesn’t want to have to defend a play like that Saturday — or have his team need to make it.
“I hope it doesn’t come down to that at all,” Zenon said. “I hope we play the best game we can play and come out victorious.”
2theadvocate.com | Sports | Remembering the 'Bluegrass Miracle' — Baton Rouge, LA
Re: Remembering the 'Bluegrass Miracle'
Man, I still remember watching that. Me and my brother were sitting with our head down when Marcus threw the ball, and watched as the Kentucky fans ran onto the field to watch Devery win the game.
I love to see the slow-mo playback when they show Marcus' reaction; you can see a Kentucky fan just over his shoulder smiling and running on to the field then you see his smile turn upside down. The truest definition of heartbreak.
Re: Remembering the 'Bluegrass Miracle'
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