ATHENS, Ga. — Andre Woodson and Wesley Woodyard, Keenan Burton and Jacob Tamme got it started.
Corey Peters and Trevard Lindley, Myron Pryor and Jeremy Jarmon kept it going.
Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke picked up the baton and helped historically football-challenged Kentucky build a bowl streak — sure, minor bowls in an era of bowl proliferation, but still bowl games — of five years.
For a school in desperate need of any kind of modern, positive football tradition, it was something.
Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy began 2011 inheriting the mantle of protectors of the Kentucky bowl streak.
Saturday began with Trevathan, Guy and UK knowing it was: win against 30-point favorite Georgia on the road, or see the consecutive seasons with post-season bowl games end.
Said Guy: "I didn't want to be part of the senior class that let those other guys (who came before) down."
Kentucky lost the game it had to win. No. 13 Georgia (9-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) clinched the Eastern Division title with a bruising 19-10 victory over Kentucky before an announced crowd of 92,746 in Sanford Stadium.
For the first time since the 2005 season, UK football (4-7, 1-6) will be home for the holidays.
In a Kentucky season that pretty much jumped the rails from the start, I kept waiting for signs that the current Cats viewed the bowl streak as something worth really fighting for. On the day that streak ended, that determination was there in spades.
Against a Georgia team that hung 528 yards of offense on Auburn last week, Trevathan spearheaded a stellar Kentucky defensive effort that limited the Bulldogs to 317 total yards.
The 6-foot-1, 232-pound senior linebacker roamed all the space in between Sanford's famous hedges making play after play. His numbers — 17 tackles, three for loss, a sack and two forced fumbles — don't even tell the story of how well he played.
"Danny was amazing," said Alvin "Bud" Dupree, the Kentucky freshman linebacker/rush end. "They couldn't block him."
At one point late in the game, Sanford Stadium public address announcer Brook Whitmire intoned "tackle by Trevathan — again."
With No. 22 leading the way, the UK defense — embarrassed a week ago when Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy carried eight Cats into the end zone on a touchdown run — made a statement.
Four times in the first half, the high-powered Bulldogs started drives in UK territory (at the 44, 27, 23 and 30). Four times, they settled for field goals after the Cats defense kept them out of the end zone.
The same Georgia that put 45 on the scoreboard against Auburn a week ago crossed the goal line once against UK. That came on the first play of the final quarter, a 7-yard TD pass from Aaron Murray to Marlon Brown. The score came on a drive that started at the Kentucky 10 after UK freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith lost a fumble.
"Georgia didn't pull any punches," UK co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "They did everything we expected them to do. And our guys were all over it."
It wasn't enough.
For all the fan-base kvetching that has gone on this season about Joker Phillips and his coaching, the reason there will not be a sixth straight bowl has been apparent since the season opener: The Cats have a glaring lack of playmaking ability on offense.
Against Georgia, only one UK wide-out, Matt Roark, caught a pass (he had a team-high three). UK's leading rusher, Raymond Sanders, had 37 yards.
For a defense that left its guts on the field in Athens, that had to be frustrating.
"Just to fall short after one side of the ball is playing so good and the other side can't follow through is very painful," Guy said. "But we can't point fingers. It's a team sport."
Guy fought for the bowl streak.
After suffering a shoulder injury in last Saturday's loss at Vandy, the senior safety said he took a shot to allow him to play against Georgia. When he came into the media interview room after the game, he could barely raise his arm to shoulder level.
"Winston Guy played with a tremendous amount of heart," Minter said. "He was banged up. But he sucked it up and went. That's what you want a senior leader to do."
If UK had played with the passion and physicality it displayed against Georgia versus foes not as gifted as the Dawgs — Louisville, Mississippi State and Vandy come to mind — the bowl streak might still be alive.
Only minutes after the bowl streak officially died, @ForGottenTrev22 — Trevathan — took to Twitter:
Gave it everything I had and everything God gave me. That's all that is. #22.
Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or email@example.com.