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William F. Reed
September 18, 1989
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September 18, 1989

College Report

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A leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson, who was third in the nation in rushing last season, opened his senior year with a bittersweet start against Kentucky in Lexington. Thompson gained a game-high 117 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns, but he was stopped cold on the biggest play of the game as the Wildcats won 17-14.

Trailing by three in the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers got the break they needed with 8:26 left when they recovered a fumble at the Kentucky 20. Indiana quickly moved to a fourth-and-goal situation at the six-inch line, and everybody in the crowd of 58,216 knew what Hoosier coach Bill Mallory would call: a handoff to Thompson, who would attempt to vault over the middle of the Wildcats' line. "You go with your best back behind your best blockers," said Kentucky coach Jerry Claiborne after the game.

Sure enough, after a timeout, that was what Indiana tried. For a moment it looked as if Thompson would make it. But into the fray came Wildcat linebacker Craig Benzinger, who slammed Thompson in a midair collision that stopped him cold. "I just got lucky," said Benzinger. The weary Thompson could only say, "We've never been stopped on that, not once, since I've been at IU."

Indeed, a year ago Thompson had scored on an identical vault in the final seconds of a game against Kentucky in Bloomington to put the finishing touch on a 36-15 Hoosier victory. Many Wildcat players and fans felt that had been a bit of overkill, and Kentucky was out for revenge. "They were gunning for us," said Mallory afterward. Though he refused to second-guess himself for calling Thompson's number instead of settling for a tying field goal, he seemed shocked by the result. "I can't believe we didn't score," he said.


When Penn State failed to snap out of last season's slump and lost 14-6 to Virginia (page 48), fellow independents Syracuse, West Virginia and Pittsburgh—all of whom are on Penn State's schedule—became the leading contenders for the Nittany Lions' accustomed role as the Beast of the East.

The most newsworthy aspect of Syracuse's 43-3 rout of Temple wasn't the passing of quarterback Bill Scharr, who completed 14 of 20 attempts for 154 yards, but an errant extra-point attempt by redshirt freshman John Biskup. It was Syracuse's first blown regular-season PAT kick after 111 games and 262 attempts without a miss. In case you were wondering, the last Syracuse miss was by Dave Jacobs against Boston College on Nov. 18, 1978.

West Virginia beat Maryland 14-10 for its second win of the season, but the Mountaineers have yet to convince anybody they'll be as good as last year's 11-1 Fiesta Bowl team. They trailed 10-0 at halftime on the way to an indifferent win.

Pitt could give West Virginia fits in their Sept. 30 meeting, judging by the way the Panthers' defense dominated Boston College in a 29-10 victory in Boston. Pitt Coach Mike Gottfried has so many dependable defensive players that he was able to platoon against BC, giving the starters a rest on every third series unless the Eagles had gone past midfield.

One further note on a future Penn State foe: Rutgers stayed on course for a 0-0-11 season by tying Ball State 31-31. In their opener the Scarlet Knights finished in a 17-17 tie with Cincinnati.

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