UK Football

UK hangs with Georgia but is held scoreless for first time under Stoops

Two teams were scoreless midway through the third quarter of a rain-soaked battle. One team remained so at game’s end.

Georgia defeated Kentucky, 21-0, handing the Wildcats their fourth loss of the season. UK (3-4) also fell to 1-4 in Southeastern Conference play.

It was the first time under Mark Stoops that Kentucky was held without a point. The Cats’ last shutout loss was 40-0 to Vanderbilt in 2012, Joker Phillips’ last season as head coach.

Lynn Bowden made his second straight start at quarterback for UK. He did not complete a pass in the first half and finished 2-for-15. Bowden led the Cats in rushing, accumulating 99 yards on 17 carries. Kentucky finished with just 177 yards of offense.

D’Andre Swift, Georgia’s star running back, for the second year in a row eclipsed 100 yards against the Cats, finishing with 179 on 21 carries. He scored the Bulldogs’ first touchdown with 6:20 to play in the third quarter and added a second with 6:24 remaining in the fourth.

Kentucky forced a punt on Georgia’s first offensive series, the first time it has done that against an opponent since the Mississippi State game. It failed to move far on its own first possession but a 53-yard punt by Max Duffy — and a block in the back — put the Bulldogs at their own 9-yard line on their next trip. The Cats forced a three-and-out and Josh Ali returned a punt 19 yards to the Georgia 46, but they failed to convert a first down.

Georgia again went three-and-out, this time eliciting loud boos from the Bulldog faithful. Kavosiey Smoke on the Cats’ next drive picked up 5 yards on first-and-10 but came up favoring his left arm. UK gained only two yards the rest of the possession before punting once more. (Smoke was evaluated for a left shoulder injury, according to the UK Radio Network; he did not return.)

The Bulldogs started to move on their next trip but a 7-yard tackle for loss by DeAndre Square, a quick tackle by Josh Paschal and a pass breakup by Brandin Echols combined to stall them at their own 36. Kentucky couldn’t capitalize; Ahmad Wagner almost flipped the field on a lengthy third-down pass from Bowden but it came out of his hands as he landed.

George Pickens hauled in a 21-yard pass to ignite a Georgia drive that eventually ended at midfield; a third-and-1 pickup on a run by Jake Fromm was reversed after review, leading to a fourth-down attempt that was stopped at the line of scrimmage by Kash Daniel and Square. Kentucky advanced 5 yards before a failed trick play ending its fifth drive in a fifth punt. UK again forced a punt before picking up a first down to end the first half.

Kentucky put together its first extensive drive after receiving the second-half kickoff. The Cats got all the way to Georgia’s 27 but a holding penalty against Logan Stenberg forced a third-and-16 pass that went well out of bounds.

Georgia’s first drive of the second half ended in its sixth punt; Ali fumbled it but recovered. The Cats were forced to punt for the seventh time and Duffy’s kick went only 15 yards; Swift on its next play from scrimmage rushed 39 yards to finally put points on the scoreboard. It added seven more after Brian Herrien found pay dirt to end a drive that started from UK’s 31 due to a lost fumble by Bowden.

A 58-yard kickoff return by Zach Johnson set Kentucky up at Georgia’s 40. Bowden soon after rushed for a 21-yard gain that got pushed to the Bulldogs’ 9 after a facemask penalty. Kentucky’s best scoring opportunity — a high-but-catchable pass to Chris Rodriguez — was dropped in the end zone; UK eventually turned the ball over on downs, leading to another Georgia scoring drive.

Notes

Daniel was hurt late in the first half but got up under his own power. The UK Radio Network reported that Daniel would be held out of the second half as a precautionary measure due to dizziness.

Bowden did not complete a pass until there were about 4 minutes left in the game. He hit Bryce Oliver for a 9-yard gain to convert a first down on third-and-3.

Next game

No. 22 Missouri at Kentucky

7:30 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network)

Josh Moore is in his first year covering the University of Kentucky football team and in his fifth year reporting for the Lexington Herald-Leader, where he’s been employed since 2009. Moore, a Martin County native, graduated from UK with a B.A. in Integrated Strategic Communication and English in 2013. He’s a huge fan of the NBA, Power Rangers and country music.
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