UK Football

Stoops calls 63-31 loss to Georgia 'not acceptable, embarrassing'

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops yelled at an official in the second quarter.
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops yelled at an official in the second quarter. Herald-Leader

Kentucky probably could have saved money on some final demolition projects at Commonwealth Stadium by just handing Mark Stoops a sledgehammer.

The head coach fumed and paced the sideline as he watched his team crumble against Georgia 63-31 on Saturday in the final game at the stadium before next season.

"We talked about all week becoming men and playing big– boy football, but we didn't do that today," Stoops said after the loss that saw the Bulldogs score more points against a Southeastern Conference foe than they had in 72 years.

Georgia (7-2, 5-2 SEC) scored a touchdown on every possession except the one that ended the first half and the one that ended the game. It converted all eight third-down opportunities available.

"Not acceptable," Stoops continued. "Just very disappointed in the way we played, the way we're playing. Like I said, embarrassing is the word that comes to mind."

Stoops wasn't the only one.

"Any time you get your ass kicked, it's embarrassing," said quarterback Patrick Towles, who recovered some from a poor performance at Missouri to lead Kentucky to a 24-point second quarter that got them back in the game temporarily.

But Kentucky (5-5, 2-5) didn't have enough firepower to stay with the Bulldogs, who got five passing touchdowns, two on the ground and then two more on special teams returns by Isaiah McKenzie.

"We didn't play good, and I'll sit here and accept that, and it is what it is," Stoops said. "But that's the truth. We're a .500 football team with two big games left."

The Cats' final game in front of 60,152 at Commonwealth Stadium before it reopens shiny and renovated next season seemed doomed from the start.

McKenzie took the short opening kickoff 90 yards for the score.

"It started with a terrible kick and some guys not doing their job," Stoops said. "You play a very good football team and they make you pay like that, it kind of takes the air out of the stadium right from the start."

With five minutes still to go in the first quarter, UK found itself in a 21-0 hole before responding with a 24-point second quarter to go into the halftime trailing just 35-24.

"We were in it," Towles said. "We had a lot of momentum going there; we were right in there. We planned on going down and scoring and make it a four-point game and then we're right in the thick of it."

But on the first play of the first series out of the locker room, Towles' pass intended for Ryan Timmons was picked off by Corey Moore.

"If we could've put something positive on the board, I don't know if at the end of the day we were good enough to win it, but it wouldn't have turned out like this," offensive coordinator Neal Brown would say of the interception.

Georgia turned that Kentucky mistake into a 42-24 advantage five plays later when Hutson Mason found Jeb Blazevich for the score, with the ball bouncing off the hands of two UK defenders.

"The way we came out in the second half was maybe more impressive than how we came out in the first," Georgia Coach Mark Richt said. "I'm just really proud of the team and what they did today."

Mason finished a career night with 174 yards and four touchdowns, two to Chris Conley. Brice Ramsey came on in relief and completed all five pass attempts for 80 yards and a touchdown of his own.

Georgia put up 559 yards of total offense, to the tune of 9.3 yards per play. It included 305 yards on the ground and 254 through the air.

On the ground, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for most of the damage with a combined 30 yards for 254 yards and two scores.

"We really don't know what happened," said UK defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree, one of 22 players celebrated with a pre-game ceremony for Senior Day. "Just not executing calls and just not playing with a lot of effort. Just different things we got to fix. Can't point any fingers."

McKenzie made sure any comeback thoughts were put to rest when he added a 59-yard punt return for points with 11:09 still to go in the third quarter.

"The kick return, the punt return, then the interception to start the second half and give it to them," Stoops said. "That's 21 points right there against an offense that's hard to stop. They're averaging 40 a game. I've said all week that they were going to be tough to stop, and then when you give them that 21, you know, we have no shot."

Towles threw for 139 yards and a touchdown to Javess Blue late when the game had long been decided. He also ran for 60 yards and a 1-yard score to end the first half rally.

Kentucky finished with 353 yards of total offense, led by Towles and a 100-yard rushing day for Georgia native and former Bulldogs commitment Stanley "Boom" Williams, who had a 56-yard touchdown run.

It was little consolation for the UK freshman.

"I just wanted to win the game and send these seniors out on a good note for their last home game playing at Commonwealth," he said. "I really wanted to get the win and send the seniors out the right way."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader