Story published: Sunday, November 20, 2005
ATHENS, Ga. -- There were plenty of feel-good vibes floating around the Kentucky camp last week after the Wildcats' most impressive win of the year over Vanderbilt.
But that was Vandy.
UK ran into an entirely different animal in Georgia yesterday, and it showed.
Quarterback D.J. Shockley passed for four touchdowns as the 14th-ranked Bulldogs sewed up the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division by coasting to a 45-13 win over Kentucky in front of a Sanford Stadium crowd of 92,746.
Sophomore running back Rafael Little was hoping to add to his impressive list of performances against a tough Bulldog defense, but Little was held in check other than a 75-yard punt-return touchdown that was called back by an illegal block. The creases that were available against Vandy closed up quickly, and when Little got out on the perimeter, there was usually a gang of
Georgia defenders waiting on him.
Little finished with 29 yards on 13 carries and netted five yards on his four pass receptions. He came into the game leading the nation in all-purpose yards at 193.9 per game but finished with a season-low 61.
UK offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said Georgia did a good job of holding Little up as he tried to get loose on screen plays.
"Everywhere he went, they were right there," Phillips said. "Those guys are fast, and they react fast."
Little said he wasn't surprised at all the extra attention.
"I figured that would probably happen," he said. "They did a good job.
They're the best defense we've faced all year, at least from my point of view."
UK had a few early chances to make some noise. The Bulldogs honored both their senior class and the 1980 national championship team and seemed flat out of the gate, going three-and-out on their first series.
Kentucky (3-7, 2-5) appeared to grab early momentum when Little fielded a punt and burst down the right sideline and into the end zone two minutes into the game. But officials flagged senior Raymond Fontaine for a block in the back, so instead of a 7-0 lead, UK took over at its own 31 and punted after three plays.
UK Coach Rich Brooks said he'd have to see replays before saying for sure whether an illegal block should have been called but said he thought Little was ahead of the play when the flag was thrown.
"It's interesting how we're the second-least penalized team in the SEC, but the flags start flying every time we make a play," Brooks said, noting that UK had a big kickoff return and fourth-down stop negated by flags. "I guess we've got to clean those things up."
The Wildcats drew first blood on their next possession. A personal foul call on Georgia gave UK the ball just outside midfield, and the Cats took advantage of the short field for a 19-yard Taylor Begley field goal.
The Bulldogs needed a trick play to finally get going in the second quarter, as punter Gordon Ely-Kelso ran 34 yards to the Kentucky 19.
"They got us," Brooks said of the fake punt. "That was a big momentum turn. They figured out where we were returning and ran it away from what we called."
UK forced Georgia into a fourth-and-one from the 10, but Shockley play-faked and found 6-foot-7, 250-pound tight end Leonard Pope wide open in the back of the end zone at the 12:27 mark.
The Bulldogs misfired on all 10 of their third-down plays but were 3-for-4 on fourth down.
"0-for-10 on third down, I've never seen that before," defensive coordinator Mike Archer said. "But we weren't mentally tough enough on fourth down. On the fourth-and-one (touchdown to Pope), we call a blitz, and if we cover the tight end, it's a sack. But we didn't cover him."
Freshman David Jones then let the kickoff dribble out of his hands and out of bounds at the 5-yard line, and Georgia controlled field position the rest of the half. In the second quarter, the Cats ran 15 plays for 21 yards.
Georgia needed to go 45 yards for its next score, as Shockley used play action and hit fullback Brannan Southerland on a 2-yard slant for a 14-3 advantage.
UK went three-and-out again, and on Georgia's first play from scrimmage, Danny Ware went untouched up the middle for a 52-yard TD run at 4:48. Kicker Brandon Coutu nailed a 56-yard field goal right before halftime to give the Bulldogs a 21-point cushion.
Shockley didn't hurt the Cats on the ground much, rushing for minus-5 yards on four carries. But the 6-1, 206-pound senior showed off his athletic ability on his fourth touchdown pass when he scrambled around the backfield, shook tackle Myron Pryor and lofted a 7-yard TD pass to Bryan McClendon.
"(Shockley) threw the ball very nicely," Brooks said.
UK finished with a season-low 199 yards of total offense despite winning the time of possession battle by six minutes.
"What does that tell you?" Phillips asked. "We didn't make plays. We didn't make the plays we had been making the past two weeks."
After beating Vandy, UK falls hard to Dogs