Date story published: Sunday, October 21, 2001
ATHENS, Ga. -- Just who were those guys in the blue helmets and white jerseys in the first half of the Kentucky-Georgia game yesterday?
It sure didn't look like the same Kentucky team that had been inept on offense and sieve-like on defense for much of the season's first six weeks.
No, for the game's first 30 minutes, UK looked like a team ready to grab the bull by the horns and ruin homecoming at the University of Georgia by pulling off a stunning upset of the 17th-ranked Bulldogs.
Unfortunately for Wildcat Coach Guy Morriss, that unfamiliar team that showed up for the first half disappeared in the second half.
The Cats hit Georgia with a barrage of 22 unanswered points to take a 22-7 lead over the seemingly shell-shocked Bulldogs in the second quarter. But it was Georgia Coach Mark Richt's team who had the last, and most important, barrage of the game.
The Bulldogs scored 29 of the game's final 36 points after intermission and pulled out a hard-earned 43-29 win over Kentucky much to the delight of the 86,520 fans at Sanford Stadium.
"I told the team at halftime that Georgia was a good football team that has been down and been behind before and to expect them to make a run in the second half," Morriss said. "We still played hard, we just didn't play smart. We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot the whole second half."
What Morriss was referring to was three second-half turnovers by the UK offense and the inability of the Wildcat secondary to cover Bulldogs receiver Fred Gibson.
Gibson, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound true freshman, broke a Georgia school record with 201 yards receiving on nine catches and also added two touchdowns, including a go-ahead 56-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
For the second straight year UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen was dazzling against the Georgia defense. Making his first start since the season opener against Louisville, Lorenzen accounted for 438 yards of total offense, going 32-for-54 passing for 377 yards with three touchdowns while picking up 61 yards on the ground.
"In my opinion, Lorenzen is just a great football player," Richt said. "If he's disciplined and does everything he needs to do, he's tough to stop. We're just fortunate to get the win."
Lorenzen didn't make many mistakes yesterday, but one of them set up the Bulldogs' go-ahead score.
UK had first-and-10 at the Georgia 38 with the score tied at 29 at the start of the fourth quarter. Lorenzen was looking for tight end Derek Smith on the left side, but Georgia went to a zone blitz and defensive end Robert Geathers dropped back in coverage and picked off Lorenzen's pass at the Bulldogs 40.
"They dropped the end off and kind of baited (Lorenzen) into that throw," UK offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "He should have thrown to the back in that situation, but he'll learn from that."
Georgia ran Jasper Sanks for a 4-yard gain on its next play before going deep to Gibson, who squeezed between Jeremy Bowie and Quentus Cumby at about the 30-yard line, grabbed the ball and raced into the end zone to give Georgia a 36-29 lead 51 seconds into the final period.
Cumby had the angle for a possible interception but appeared to misjudge the ball.
"I'm not really sure what happened; I just didn't make the play," Cumby said. "I guess I overran it. That's a play I've got to make."
UK then stalled on its next possession, and Georgia quarterback David Greene, who had a fine game himself, drove the Bulldogs 82 yards in just six plays. He hit Damien Gary for 19 yards, and a screen to Verron Haynes went for 46 yards to the UK 19. Greene then picked up 14 yards on a keeper before tossing to Haynes out of the backfield for a 5-yard score and a 14-point Bulldog advantage (43-29) with 10:12 remaining.
Greene, a 6-foot-3, 222-pound redshirt freshman, went 22-for-36 passing for 364 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 41 yards and a score as well.
Lorenzen immediately had the Cats back in scoring range, but Derek Abney fumbled at the 1-yard line as he tried to fight his way into the end zone after a 14-yard reception.
"The kid was just competing; that's just the way he is," Pease said. "He laid his heart on the line and was just trying to get it in."
That was pretty much the ballgame as Georgia ran almost all of the remaining 7:30 off the clock on its next possession.
The Cats had it all working early. After falling behind 7-0 on Haynes' 1-yard run at 10:53 of the first period, Lorenzen went 7-for-9 for 66 yards to set up Seth Hanson's 37-yard field goal that brought the Cats to within 7-3 midway through the first period.
The Kentucky defense then came up with some big plays. Dennis Johnson hit Greene just as he was about to release the ball at the UK 36, and Otis Grigsby recovered the fumble at the Wildcats 39-yard line with 3:39 left in the opening period.
The Cats couldn't initially capitalize, however, as they went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
But after the defense stuffed Georgia once again, Lorenzen drove the offense 72 yards in eight plays, highlighted by a 35-yard catch and run by Chase Harp (helped out by a great block from receiver Aaron Boone) to the Georgia 10. Lorenzen then hit a wide-open Derek Smith in the back of the end zone to give Kentucky a 10-7 lead with 11:04 left in the second period.
Lorenzen continued to sizzle. He was able to get off a pass to Boone just as he was getting drilled by end Bruce Adrine, and Boone caught the ball at the 10 and slid away from a couple of defenders and into the end zone to make it 16-7 Wildcats with 8:53 left in the second quarter.
On Georgia's next possession, Derrick Tatum stepped in front of Greene's pass intended for Terrence Edwards and picked it off at the Kentucky 49. Lorenzen then pump-faked and found a wide-open Boone for a 26-yard touchdown to give UK a 22-7 lead with 7:04 remaining. You could sense the feeling of shell-shock on the Georgia sidelines and in the stands.
But Gibson came to the rescue, beating Tatum and hauling in a 68-yard touchdown pass from Greene down the left sideline that trimmed UK's lead to 22-14 with a little under six minutes left in the first half.
"That was a big play," UK defensive coordinator John Goodner said. "That sent them into the locker room with some momentum."
Still, the Cats felt pretty good about going into halftime with an eight-point lead. Probably too good, according to center Nick Seitze.
"I can't speak for everybody, but I think our heads were a little too high at halftime," Seitze said. "We get leads, but we haven't yet learned how to maintain leads."
Georgia started the second half by marching down the field for the game-tying score.
On third-and-9 from the UK 21, Greene swept to his right, escaped pressure, circled all the away across the field and down the sideline for the touchdown. Randy McMichael caught the two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 22 with 11:58 left in the third.
Kentucky regained the lead on Lorenzen's 1-yard sneak with 6:16 left in the third, but Haynes walked in from a yard out less than three minutes later to tie it at 29, and it was all Georgia the rest of the way as they took advantage of a tired Wildcat defense.
"To some degree, they wore us out, no question," Morriss said. "We're thin to start with, and our better kids have to play the whole way."
UK will have a bye this week before returning to action Nov. 3 at Mississippi State.