Date story was published: Sunday, October 22, 1995
It doesn't matter if you play your sixth-string quarterback, or your 12th- string tailback, or you send your student managers out for passes, or if everyone but your mascot, UGA, is propped up by crutches.
Not if you can play defense. Not if you can play it hard enough and well enough and stingy enough to prove that, for anyone not named Steve Spurrier, offense is for show; defense is what brings home the dough. Defense matters.
And it was defense -- tough, nasty Dawg defense -- that delivered a Homecoming win to the disabled Georgia Bulldogs, and brought derailment to Kentucky's train of momentum, as Georgia triumphed 12-3 yesterday at Sanford Stadium.
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Already crippled by a freak string of injuries to its offense, Ray Goff's club lost its starting quarterback (Brian Smith, separated shoulder) and best receiver (Brice Hunter, pulled hamstring) in the first 20 minutes, failed to score a touchdown, yet turned four Kanon Parkman field goals into a 5-3 record overall, 2-3 in the SEC.
They did it with defense. Joe Kines' unit, ranked third in the SEC, allowed UK's Moe-and-Go offense just 247 total yards, keeping Elliot Uzelac's one-back scheme out of the end zone for the first time this season.
"This is just a great group of kids who have been through so much adversity," said Goff, who has now lost two quarterbacks, six tailbacks and two wide receivers. "These kids just find a way to win."
To Kentucky Coach Bill Curry, however, it looked more like his team found a way to lose.
"That's not good enough," said Curry to start his post-game news conference. "That was very disappointing. Georgia played hard and we didn't. Especially on offense."
Thus UK dropped to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the SEC, losing its ninth straight between the hedges.
"It's very disappointing," said UK tailback Moe Williams, who rushed for 117 yards on 22 carries. "This was the game that could have put us on the roll."
Instead, the offense got rolled. Just twice did the Cats push the football inside the Georgia 30-yard line. Just once were they inside the 20.
"We knew the key to stopping them would be trying to stop Moe Williams, so we used some different schemes and some more slanting options," said Whit Marshall, Georgia's middle linebacker. "Our defensive line played great and (Kentucky) played pretty much the way we expected them to."
The Wildcats' option and short passing game, which had succeeded in the fourth quarter of last week's 24-16 win over LSU, never took hold yesterday.
"They stunted a lot and we didn't block the stunts as well as we should have," said center John Schlarman. "We didn't get the job done."
They also made the job easy for the Georgia offense, twice turning it over inside Kentucky territory -- once on a Billy Jack Haskins interception at the UK 41; the other on a Williams fumble at the 40. Both times Parkman nailed field goals, hitting first a 27-yarder then a 24-yarder for a 6-0 Georgia lead.
The second score came with Hines Ward running the offense. Ward, replaced Smith, who had separated his shoulder on an option play during Georgia's first field-goal drive.
"It's been every week and just one of those years," Goff said of the numerous injuries.
"We just got hit in the mouth," Schlarman said. "And speaking for myself, I didn't play with emotion."
Only twice did the Cats have decent TD opportunities. Starting at the Georgia 49 with 2:07 left in the first half, they drove to the 21 with 10 seconds remaining, but Brian Sivinski's 38-yard field-goal attempt went wide right.
Then in the third quarter, the score 9-0 Georgia, Cat linebacker Lamont Smith recovered a fumbled Georgia snap at the Bulldog 37. A 24-yard pass from Haskins to Antonio O'Ferral put the ball at the 13; a pass interference penalty placed it first-and-goal at the 7.
But on first down, Williams was stopped for no gain. On second down, linebacker Phillip Benton sacked Haskins for a 6-yard loss. On third down, Haskins hit O'Ferral on the right sideline, but the senior could not get past free safety Corey Johnson, who made the open-field tackle at the 5.
Sivinski kicked a 22-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 9-3. But no matter. No fourth-quarter heroics this day.
"They've got good players. They replace good players with other good players," Curry said. "But the biggest thing Georgia has going for it is they play hard every single snap."
And from his viewpoint, his Cats did not. Not yesterday.
"I'm not talking about effort," Curry said. "I'm talking about smashing, aggressive football. There's a fine edge there. When we have it we're a hard team to beat. When we're less than that, when there's a slight lack of concentration, that's all it takes to shut us down."
No matter who is hurt on the opposite sideline.