Like all of you, prior to every football season I check our schedule to make my own determination of wins, losses and toss-ups. And every year we’ve been in the SEC, I have come to the name Kentucky and thought “win”. For ten straight years, I’ve been right, which is more than I can say about Vanderbilt.
But if not for #7 on the Number Association Countdown, that streak would’ve come to an end in 2004.
The ‘Cocks were 4-2 heading into Commonwealth Stadium that year, facing off against a 1-4 UK squad. Starting QB Dondrial Pinkins was out with a bum shoulder, and mid-way though the second quarter, backup Syvelle Newton sprained his ankle. Redshirt freshman Blake Mitchell was mildly terrible in Newton’s stead, and Kentucky took a 7-6 lead late into the fourth quarter.
With a little over six minutes left, Lou Holtz inserted seldom used JUCO transfer Mike Rathe. Rathe marched the Gamecocks into field goal range with a little over a minute left. On 3rd and 10 from the Kentucky 19, Rathe rolled to his right, and doing his best Joe Montana lofted a pass to the back of the end zone just before stepping out of bounds. Troy Williamson snatched the ball out of the air and came down in bounds with the go-ahead TD. The defense held Kentucky on four straight plays, and we escaped with an ugly, ugly win.
Rathe applied for a sixth year of eligibility in 2005, and many thought he would be a strong contender for the starting job in Steve Spurrier’s first year. But alas, in their infinite wisdom the NCAA felt it was time for Mike Rathe to move on, and he did. Rathe played a little Arena League II, but currently his whereabouts are unknown. At least by me.