Mark Richt's Comments…
In a game Georgia dominated for the first 30 minutes, nothing went right for the Bulldogs in the latter 30 minutes. Special teams problems, turnovers but the offense, shoddy tackling on defense, costly penalties – it was a menagerie of miscues all over the board, culminating with one of the most disastrous plays of the season.
Just one yard away from tying the game, Joe Cox’s pitch to Washaun Ealey missed its mark, bounced on the turf and was recovered by Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan to seal a 34-27 win – the first for the Wildcats in Athens in 32 years.
Cox turned the ball over three times in the second half, with the fumble near the goal line and an interception with 1:45 left to play securing a somber sendoff in their last game at Sanford Stadium for Georgia’s seniors.
It began much like it ended. For the seventh time in 11 games, Georgia found itself playing catch-up Saturday. After the two teams exchanged three-and-outs, Kentucky got a break on its second drive when Bryan Evans was flagged for a late hit on Wildcats’ quarterback Morgan Newton. That moved Kentucky deep into Georgia territory, and three plays later, the freshman quarterback connected with tailback Derrick Locke, who used the referee to screen Rennie Curran from a tackle before dashing into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.
But as they’ve done so many times this year, the Bulldogs fought back quickly.
Cox and Ealey helped engineer a 12-play drive to the Kentucky 1-yard line, but the drive stalled there and Blair Walsh booted a short field goal.
Big plays by Branden Smith – a 31-yard run on a reverse – and Rantavious Wooten – a 21-yard reception for a score – put Georgia in the driver’s seat, and the Bulldogs appeared to be in cruise control throughout the rest of the half. A 20-yard touchdown pass to Orson Charles and another field goal from Walsh gave Georgia a 20-6 lead at the half, with the Wildcats’ offense slumping.
It didn’t take long for all the momentum to swing.
Smith fumbled the opening kickoff in the second half, giving Kentucky the ball at the Georgia 14. Two plays later, Randall Cobb waltzed into the end zone on a 12-yard run to pull the Wildcats to within seven.
The turnover was a momentum killer, but Georgia appeared to stay in control when Cox hit Wooten for the second time in the game with a pass that tipped through the hands of Randall Burden and landed safely in the waiting arms of the Bulldogs’ freshman for a touchdown and a 14-point lead.
But as quickly as Georgia had regained control, Kentucky wrestled it back. The ensuing kickoff was a squib, fielded by Ross Bogue and returned to midfield. The Wildcats wasted no time in capitalizing on the miscue, with Newton hitting La’Rod King for a 21-yard touchdown reception.
From there, things spiraled out of control for the beleaguered Bulldogs. Locke took a handoff and ran 60 yards for a touchdown on Kentucky’s next drive to tie the game, and Cox threw his first interception in nearly a month just moments later, setting the Wildcats up with a first and goal at the Georgia 8. Cobb capped the drive three plays later with a 1-yard run to give Kentucky its first lead since the opening quarter, 34-27.