No. 1 Georgia dominates Cats

Published 10:38 am Monday, October 9, 2023

By Keith Taylor

Kentucky Today

Top-ranked Georgia continued its dominance over Kentucky, rolling to a 51-13 victory Saturday night in Athens in a game that was never close.

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It marked the first loss of the season for No. 20 Kentucky, which suffered its 14th consecutive defeat to the Bulldogs. The Wildcats (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) edged the Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0) in 2009 but haven’t won since. Georgia, the two-time defending national champion, has won 23rd straight regular-season games.

A year ago, Kentucky kept the final margin respectable with a 16-6 setback in Lexington, but this time it was a rout from the start.

“When you run the ball and you have play-action and your offensive line protects and you have throwers and catchers, you’re going to do well,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said after improving to 87-15 in his eight-year tenure. “It makes it hard to defend us as a team because (Beck is) standing back there all day because you’re protecting and you can’t cover (the receivers) very long.”

The Bulldogs dominated from start to finish, racing out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The hosts scored on all six of its possessions of the half and led 34-7 at the break. Georgia extended the margin in the second half, while Kentucky struggled to find a consistent rhythm on offense or defense.

“Got to give them a lot of credit,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “We did not play very good. We didn’t play very smart. We did not handle this atmosphere. However, that team put it together tonight.

“We were clearly having a hard time slowing them down (falling behind 21-0). We do have an opportunity to at least stay on pace and we do some things you can’t do to beat a team like that. It gets away from you very fast and then you get away from your true game plan. It’s not a good situation. No excuses. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck completed 28 of 35 passes for 389 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The Bulldogs piled up 608 yards, the most against Kentucky’s defense this season. Twelve Georgia receivers made a catch against the bewildered UK secondary.

Most of Beck’s completions were to tight end Brock Bowers, who hauled in seven passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Jacksaint-Rosemy caught four passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Beck didn’t play in the fourth quarter as backup Brock Vandagriff finished it off.

Kentucky managed just 183 yards against the Bulldogs. After amassing more than 300 yards rushing against Florida last week, the Wildcats managed just 55 yards rushing.

“We are going to handle adversity better than we did a year ago. Put it on me. I can handle it. We need to get back to work,” Stoops said. “We can’t let one (loss) turn into two. Put this on me. I clearly didn’t have us ready for this moment. We have to put it together.”

The Wildcats play Missouri at home Saturday night. The Tigers fell 49-39 against LSU, blowing a 15-point lead.

Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary threw for 128 yards and two touchdowns, but was not sharp as his struggle with accuracy continued.

“I can’t make any excuses for him,” Stoops said on his postgame radio show. “There (are) open receivers. He’s got to step into it and make the throw. I told him that on the sideline. He went through a couple of stretches (where) we did have some good series. Overall, just not good enough right now.”

Kentucky running back Ray Davis, who rushed for a career-high 280 yards last week against Florida, was limited to just 59 yards on 15 carries.

The 51 points allowed was the most since Alabama scored 60 on Kentucky in 2020.Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, facing Missouri at Kroger Field. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.