Date story was published: Sunday, October 25, 1992
The license plate said GEORGIA.
Churning on all its glorious cylinders, all hum and no rattle, Georgia's high-powered offense caught Kentucky beneath its wheels and rolled to an impressive 40-7 victory last night at Commonwealth Stadium.
How impressive? Try this: Heisman Trophy candidate Garrison Hearst, playing in spite of a stomach virus, motored for 171 yards and one score. Quarterback Eric Zeier completed 16 of 21 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Wide out Andre Hastings made nine receptions for 128 yards and two TDs.
In all, the Bulldog buzzsaw cut through the UK defense for 567 yards total offense -- just 71 shy of the 638 the Bulldogs battered UK for last year in Athens -- in handing Kentucky its most lopsided defeat since Tennessee blanked the Cats 42-0 in 1985.
"We were just soundly beaten by a vastly superior football team," UK Coach Bill Curry said. "They are a very good team. Better than I thought they were."
In fact, Georgia is 7-1 for the first time since 1984. Coach Ray Goff's club has won six straight. It leads the Southeastern Conference East with a 5-1 mark heading into next Saturday's annual border conflict with Florida in Jacksonville.
"We played a lot better tonight than we have played in the last few weeks," Goff said. "It was a very complete game for us."
Including defensively, where the quicker Dogs limited the Cat attack to a single score. First possession of the second half, UK drove 64 yards with quarterback Pookie Jones hitting Alfonzo Browning for an 18-yard score. But by that time Georgia had a 20-0 halftime advantage.
And after Kentucky's brief offensive success, the Dogs merely countered with a pair of scores to put the game out of reach. Zeier found the fluid Hastings with a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-7. Later, Zeier connected with Hastings on a 43-yard strike, setting up a 10-yard TD run from Hearst, making it 33-7 (the extra point was blocked).
"I really thought we'd get after them and fight and scratch better than we did," Curry said. "But let's give credit where credit is due. This was a real whipping by a very good team."
The whipping dropped Kentucky to 4-3 overall, 2-3 in the SEC. "The speed of the game was way too much for us right from the beginning," said Curry.
Brandishing the SEC's best offense, the Dogs wasted no time exerting dominance. Hearst, using his quickness to cut back through holes, lived up to all his Heisman hype. The junior entered the game averaging 151.6 yards per game, second only to San Diego State's Marshall Faulk. His 15 touchdowns led the nation. Plus, he was coming off a career-high 246-yard outburst last week against Vanderbilt.
Last night, third carry, Hearst bolted through the Cat defense for a 30- yard gain to the Kentucky 8-yard line. That set up a 22-yard Todd Peterson field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Next possession, Hearst sped 52 yards down the left sideline to the UK 28. Two plays later, Cat safety Brad Armstead picked off a Zeier throw. But that was a mere blip on the sophomore quarterback's radar screen.
Next drive, with Hearst on the sidelines -- "I think it was the spaghetti I ate before the game," he said -- backup Terrell Davis merely raced 22 yards up the middle for a score. Zeier followed with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Hastings. When Peterson booted a 45-yard field goal 35 seconds before halftime, Georgia led 20-0.
The Dogs gained 292 yards the first half. By the 9:28 mark of the second quarter, Hearst had passed 100 yards, and he had 109 on 11 carries at the half. Zeier completed 10 of 14 passes for 124 yards the first two quarters. Hastings had six catches for 68 yards.
"The running game and passing game clicked in spots tonight," Hastings said. "It was the first time this year that they came together in the same game. I think it kept the UK defense off balance."
And if the UK defense was having no luck getting a handle on the swift Dogs, the Cat offense was doing no better. The Cats managed just 99 yards the first half, getting no closer than the Bulldog 35-yard line.
"They were the fastest team we've played so far," fullback Terry Samuels said. "Their pursuit was great."
Kentucky did open the second half with its 64-yard scoring march. "I thought we were going to get into a rhythm," said tailback Damon Hood.
Nothing doing, said Georgia. The Dogs shut down UK's next possession, three and out. Hastings returned the punt 20 yards to midfield. Six plays later, Zeier found Hastings with a perfect toss into the right corner of the end zone. Georgia led 27-7.
If that didn't settle matters for good, the visitors' first possession of the fourth quarter did. First play, Zeier fooled the UK secondary with a pump fake, then hit Hastings for a 43-yard gain to the Cat 37. Four plays later, Hearst scooted into the end zone from 10 yards out, for his 16th TD on the year.
"Hearst is the best I've seen," Curry said when asked about the Bulldog's Heisman chances. "His biggest competition is on his own team. That No. 1 (Hastings) is awfully good, too."
Fact, Georgia is good.
"They've just got the complete package, no doubt about it," UK strike Dean Wells said. "They just put it to us."