The Kentucky Wildcats dropped to 2-4 on the season Saturday with a 14-3 loss to the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs at Kroger Field.
Here’s a recap of all the action:
The Bulldogs won the opening toss and opted to defer and put Joey Gatewood and the UK offense on the field first. Gatewood would make a big-play early as on third and four, he was able to use his legs to keep the drive alive as he rushed for nine yards and a first down. That would be the only first down of Kentucky’s drive as they’d be forced to punt after Chris Rodriguez was stopped short on third and five three plays later.
Georgia quickly established the run on their first drive of the game as Zamir White ran on each of the first three plays of the possession for a combined 17 and was given an extra 15 after Kentucky’s Jordan Wright was called for a face mask. The Bulldogs then crossed midfield with a James Cook run that went for 10-yards to the UK 44-yard line. Two plays later, Georgia would close in on the red zone as Kendall Milton picked up 14-yards on the ground to the UK 28-yard line. The Bulldogs continued to keep the ball on the ground and eventually found pay dirt as quarterback Stetson Bennett scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. Georgia’s drive, which consisted of all run plays, went for 12 plays and 84 yards as they took an early 7-0 lead.
Kentucky picked up a quick third down conversion on their ensuing possession as Rodriguez picked up five-yards on third and four. Like their first drive, however, they’d only pick up one first down as three plays later, Gatewood was sacked on third down by Georgia’s Kearis Jackson to force another punt.
The Bulldogs continued to run the ball down Kentucky’s throat on their next possession as White opened the drive with back-to-back runs for seven combined yards followed by a Bennett six-yard run for a first down. The quarter would come to a close after a Cook nine-yard run set up a third and one from the Georgia 29-yard line.
Score After First Quarter: Georgia 7, Kentucky, 0
Georgia would covert on third and one on the first play of the quarter as they continued their possession. Three plays later, UK’s defense finally got off the field as Cook was stopped a yard short of a first on third and eight after a seven-yard Bennett pass.
Kavosiey Smoke would make his return to the lineup for UK on Kentucky’s next drive as he made a five-yard catch in his first game since Week 2 when he suffered a broken rib against Ole Miss. On the next play, Gatewood found Allen Dailey for a first down with an 11-yard pass pickup. UK then began to pound the rock with Rodriguez as he ran on three straight plays for a combined 18-yards, which was followed by a six-yard Gatewood run to move Kentucky across midfield. Three plays later, Kentucky faced a fourth and two from the Georgia 43-yard line where they’d pick up a first down to the 40-yard line with a three-yard Rodriguez run. Kentucky would move to the Bulldogs 30-yard line two plays later after an eight-yard pass play to Josh Ali and a two-yard Rodriguez run. After an illegal shift backed UK up five-yards, Kentucky bounced back to pick up a first down as Gatewood connected with Keaton Upshaw for 10-yards setting up a nine-yard third down run by Rodriguez to give the Cats a first down on the Georgia 15-yard line. The drive would stall there as the Cats settled for a 34-yard Matt Ruffolo field goal to make it a 7-3 game.
The Bulldogs following drive started with a bang as Bennett connected with Cook for a 46-yard gain, which was followed by a 10-yard White run to the UK 20-yard line. Two plays later, UK’s defense made a huge play as Phil Hoskins tipped and picked off a Bennett pass giving Kentucky the ball at their own 25-yard line with 1:19 left in the half.
Kentucky’s offense would be unable to cash in after the interception as on third down Gatewood was sacked by Jermaine Johnson which was followed by a Georgia timeout with 25 seconds left in the half to force a punt.
With the half nearing an end, Georgia moved near midfield as Bennett hit Jackson for 10-yards and then found Jermaine Burton for 11-yards to the UK 41-yard line. With one second left in the half, Kentucky’s J.J. Weaver was called after jumping off offsides allowing Georgia a chance to try a 53-yard field goal attempt. Jack Podlesny‘s kick would be blocked by Kentucky’s Jamin Davis, sending the game into halftime.
Halftime Score: Georgia 7, Kentucky, 3
Georgia opened the second half with two straight White runs that went for a combined 11-yards and a first down. Then, Bennett found tight end Darnell Washington for 33-yards moving Georgia to the UK 33-yard line. Four plays later, Georgia faced a fourth down and one from the UK 22-yard line. There, White would find the end zone as he ran up the middle for 22-yards and a touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 14-3.
On their first drive of the half, Kentucky quickly moved near midfield as Rodriguez ran for 24-yards to the UK 49-yard line. Kentucky would move to the Georgia 40-yard line three plays later as Gatewood found Dailey for five-yards on third down. The drive would end in disaster two plays later as Monty Rice forced a Gatewood fumble, which was recovered by Georgia’s Richard LeCounte at the Bulldogs 36-yard line.
Georgia would move to midfield on their next possession as Bennett found Jackson for 10-yards to the 50-yard line. Two plays later, UK’s defense would keep the game alive as Kelvin Joseph picked off Bennett at the UK 18-yard line.
Kentucky would pick up a quick first down on their next possession as Rodriguez ran twice for a combined 10-yards. They then moved across their own 40-yard line as Gatewood connected with DeMarcus Harris for an eight-yard gain on third and short. The drive would come to an end soon after however as Harris dropped a third down pass from Gatewood, forcing a UK punt. Max Duffy would pin Georgia at their own eight-yard line with a 46-yard punt to end the third quarter.
Score After Third Quarter: Georgia 14, Kentucky, 3
Georgia opened the fourth quarter with three straight White runs that went for a combined 15-yards and a first down. Later in the drive, UK was able to force a fourth down after a Bennett pass to Cook was stopped five yards short of a first at the Georgia 49-yard line and forcing a punt.
Kentucky would convert an early third down on their next drive as Gatewood picked up six yards on a third and short. A few plays later, UK kept the drive alive with a fourth down conversion at their own 39-yard line. Four plays later, Kentucky would face another fourth down and this time, Georgia would stop them as LeCounte broke up a Gatewood pass with 4:10 to play.
The Bulldogs would put the finishing touches on their victory on their next drive as they quickly picked up a first down on the ground at the UK 32-yard line. Kentucky’s defense would give their offense another drive however as they stopped Georgia on a fourth down play giving UK the ball at their own 23-yard line.
With just 1:45 to play, UK’s offense looked for a miracle. Facing a 4th down and 18 with less than a minute a pass interference call on Tyrique Stevenson kept the game alive as Kentucky continued to seek a score for pride. UK’s offense would not find that score as the game ended after an offensive holding call.
Final Score: Georgia 14, Kentucky, 3
MVP: Zamir White
Kentucky’s defense had no answer for Georgia running back Zamir White, who ran for 136 yards for an average of 5.2 yards per carry while also scoring a 22-yard touchdown.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chris Rodriguez
Despite the loss, Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez was stellar as he ran for 108 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per attempt on 20 carries against the SEC’s top ranked run defense.