Date story was published: Sunday, October 28, 1984
There weren't nine turnovers to hide behind this weekend.
Except for punting it away, which Kentucky did 11 times, and two interceptions, the Wildcats held onto the ball yesterday.
Georgia won, and won convincingly, besting UK 37-7 at Commonwealth Stadium.
In a may-the-best-man-win kind of game, Georgia proved it had a decided majority of the best men. Kentucky, not hindered by the nine turnovers that doomed the Cats to defeat last weekend against Louisiana State, fought to the end.
Not to say that luck didn't play a part. The Bulldogs, ranked 13th in the nation by The Associated Press, were fortunate that field-goal kicker Kevin Butler could play despite a knee sprain. Butler, the Southeastern Conference's all-time leading scorer, contributed three field goals.
The football gods were also smiling on Georgia in the second quarter when a botched pitchout was turned into a touchdown because a free ball one-bounced into Scott Williams' hands. Williams improvised a 16-yard TD run.
Incredible? Indeed. But yesterday's result also appeared inevitable.
"We just got an old-fashioned country lickin'," UK Coach Jerry Claiborne said. "Georgia's backs ran well. Georgia's line fired out well. And Georgia came out with the big plays that destroyed us."
No self-destruction, the term Claiborne used a week ago.
Georgia's big plays included Jimmy Harrell's 76-yard punt return in the third quarter, which increased the Bulldog lead to 20-0. Georgia put some icing on the cake - and frosted the Cats - when reserves James Jackson and Fred Lane combined on a 73-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.
"I didn't appreciate that long pass," Frank Hare said. Still, UK's emotional defensive lineman had to admit, "They beat us. I'm not taking anything away from them."
Besides being inconsequential, the long pass was atypical. Neither team was willing and/or able to fool the other.
"They really stuck with the tendencies we had on them," Georgia linebacker Knox Culpepper said. "We knew they usually ran in certain formations and passed from certain formations."
Georgia defended as if it had a tip sheet on UK's offense, which was averaging nearly 37 points a game before it met SEC competition. The Bulldogs limited Kentucky to a net 10 yards rushing. George Adams, who had churned out an average of 111.7 yards per game on the ground, gained 41, 19 of which came on the first of his 13 carries.
UK managed just 182 yards of total offense and avoided a shutout in the last 10 seconds when Kevin Dooley hit Cisco Bryant with a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, Kentucky's defense had the book on Georgia, too.
"The fullback dive, the sprint-out pass and the option; we only had three plays to stop," Hare said. "We didn't and things tumbled on us."
In raw numbers, Georgia amassed 485 total yards, 307 on the ground, and threat after scoring threat.
UK? Not counting two fourth-quarter drives with Georgia already holding a 30-0 lead, the Wildcats crossed midfield twice. The first penetration ended at the Georgia 49. The second stalled at the 26 when Jeff Sanchez intercepted a Bill Ransdell pass.
"They controlled the line of scrimmage," Claiborne said. "That was the big key. When you don't control the line of scrimmage, you're going to get beat."
If anyone wondered which team was in control, the answer came on UK's first possession. On a third-and-one play, the Cats tried a pass. Ransdell rolled right and was dumped for a 6-yard loss. On a third-and-two in the second quarter, UK resorted to a trick play. Mark Logan was dropped for a 3-yard loss.
"It didn't gain anything, so there's no sense in describing it," Claiborne said of the trick that fooled no one.
UK was even less fortunate late in the second quarter when the Cats had a Georgia sweep stopped cold and the Bulldogs still managed a touchdown.
Nursing a 3-0 lead late in the first half, Georgia threatened again. On a first-down play at the UK 16, the Bulldogs pitched right to tailback Tron Jackson. At least five UK defenders waited to pounce on Jackson. Before they could, however, the ball hit Jackson in the chest and bounced free.
Tight end Scott Williams picked up the ball on the first bounce and ran left. The blocking appeared as if set up for a reverse play. UK's David Thompson, closest to stopping Williams, was double-teamed, and the Georgia tight end was free to score.
"We had those (bleepers) stopped blind," Hare said. "We knew that was a fluke. You could ask them. They knew they were in a game."
Hare got no argument from the Bulldogs.
"Scotty's play changed it from them stopping us and it being 6-0 at the half to 10-0 on a busted play," Harrell said.
The touchdown came with 91 seconds remaining in the half.
"We got a lucky bounce," Georgia Coach Vince Dooley said, "but, on the other hand, Williams took advantage of it and turned it into a touchdown."
For Williams, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., it was his first collegiate touchdown.
"I was so close I could hear the ball hit Tron in the chest and fall to the grass," Williams said. "When I turned around, it bounced right to me."
Georgia got a lock on its sixth victory in seven games (4-0 in the SEC) in the third quarter. UK was doomed to an overall record of 5-2 (1-2 in the SEC).
Faced with a fierce pass rush all day, Ransdell got a bad break on the second play after intermission. His pass ricocheted off Adams' fingers to linebacker Steve Boswell. Boswell, a second-stringer elevated to a start because Bill Mitchell was suspended, was in on a game-high 12 tackles. The sophomore returned the interception to the UK 49.
That possession ended when Butler kicked the second of his three field goals, a 33-yarder.
Later in the quarter, Harrell returned a punt 76 yards for the clincher. He fielded Paul Calhoun's 40-yard punt at the Georgia 24, broke free of Russell Hairston's grasp in the first wave of Cat defenders at about the 26 and sprinted the rest of the way untouched.
"It was kind of surprising because their coverage had been pretty good," Harrell said. "But after I got through the first few guys it was wide open."
Hairston called his attempt at stopping Harrell an "arm tackle." No one else got a hand on the Georgia senior returner.
"This hurts a lot worse," Hairston said in comparing the LSU and Georgia losses. "This was supposed to be our bounce-back game."