Date story was published: Sunday, October 27, 2002
Logic suggested that a Georgia offense minus three key starters leveled the playing field for the Bulldogs' matchup with Kentucky yesterday.
Injuries kept Georgia's top running back (Musa Smith), offensive lineman (Jon Stinchcomb) and deep threat (Fred Gibson) from taking the field. But the fifth-ranked Bulldogs, led by a two-headed monster at quarterback and a deep and talented corps of receivers, still had more than enough weapons to deal with the UK defense.
Quarterbacks David Greene and D.J. Shockley combined to throw six touchdown passes as the Bulldogs piled up 529 yards of offense while walloping UK 52-24 in front of a capacity crowd of 71,017 at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Cats saw Georgia outscore them 31-0 in the final two quarters, marking the second time in three games that the UK offense has gone without a touchdown after intermission.
It was a humbling loss for the Wildcats (5-3, 1-3 Southeastern Conference). They came into the game as five-point underdogs who felt they had a realistic shot at the upset.
Georgia, meanwhile, continued its march through the SEC and into the national-title picture, improving its record to 8-0, 5-0 in conference play.
"They came in here and showed why they're the No. 5 team in the country," said junior offensive tackle Antonio Hall.
The two teams came out and went toe-to-toe in the first half. UK drew first blood on a 33-yard touchdown run by Artose Pinner 2 1/2 minutes into the game, and Georgia answered right away with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Greene to Damien Gary at the 10:18 mark.
UK's Aaron Boone and Georgia's Benjamin Watson then exchanged touchdown receptions, Boone's from 24 yards out and Watson's from 15. The game was tied at 14 with 4:24 left in the first.
"It was a shootout," Boone said. "Back and forth, back and forth. They scored, we scored."
The Cats jumped ahead 17-14 on a 24-yard Taylor Begley field goal with 10 seconds left in the opening period, but Greene's second touchdown pass of the half, a 12-yarder to Terrence Edwards, pushed Georgia back ahead 21-17.
A 60-yard touchdown pass from Jared Lorenzen to Derek Abney gave UK a 24-21 lead with 6:21 left in the first half, but the Cats let a golden opportunity slip away before intermission.
Safety Claude Sagaille grabbed a deflected Shockley pass for an interception at the Georgia 29 with 4:29 remaining. But two sacks of Lorenzen stalled the drive, and the Cats had to punt.
"That would have helped us momentum-wise," UK Coach Guy Morriss said of the missed chance. "But we probably would have needed 20 more (points) to hang on and win with the way we played in the second half."
Georgia wasted little time seizing control in the third quarter. Greene found Edwards streaking down the right sideline for a 41-yard TD strike to reclaim the lead (28-24) with 12:28 left in the third.
UK then went three and out, and Greene hooked up with Edwards again, this time on a 12-yard screen over the middle to give the Dawgs a 35-24 lead at the 10:18 mark.
That was pretty much it for the Cats. Shockley came in and threw for an 8-yard score to Gary to make it 42-24 late in the third.
The Kentucky offense, on the other hand, produced just 101 yards after halftime.
Morriss said the only difference between the halves was the level of Georgia's play.
"The only thing that changed was Georgia," Morriss said. "They basically came out and hammered us at will. They just whipped us up front. I don't know that any of the schemes changed. I guess they just decided to play the second half and whipped us, pure and simple.
"I don't know in the second half if anything we would have done would have mattered, to be honest with you."