UK comeback falls far short against visiting Bulldogs


Kentucky Wildcats running back Benny Snell Jr. (26) carrys the ball around the Georgia defense during the game on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

As SEC Nation and a sold-out crowd piled into Kroger Field to watch the UK football team compete for an SEC East crown, their hope was short-lived as Georgia captured the East with a crushing win. The Bulldogs dispatched the Cats by the third quarter and are heading out of Lexington with a 34-17 win.

The game started normally enough. The Cats picked up a first down after receiving the opening kickoff, but had to punt shortly after. That punt is where things started to go wrong for UK.

On the return, Georgia’s Mecole Hardman brought the ball back inside the UK 25 thanks to a 65-yard punt return that set up a 4-yard pass from quarterback Jake Fromm to tight end Isaac Nauta.

The Cats were driving the ball after that, looking to get back into the game, but Conrad fumbled the ball and the Bulldogs recovered. On the way back up the field, Fromm took a high snap and fumbled. Josh Allen, UK’s star outside linebacker, recovered the fumble and gave the Cats both the ball and new life.

The Cats pushed all the way to the red zone, challenging the Bulldog defense. They only came away with a 34-yard field goal, and Georgia took the rest of the quarter to begin opening the floodgates.

After a long Bulldog drive, a holding call pushed the visitors back to the Kentucky 20, making it 2nd and 17. Bulldog running back D’Andre Swift danced around defenders for a 20-yard run that put Georgia up 14-3, the deficit the Cats came back from a week ago.

UK survived a scare at the end of the half, as Fromm fumbled another snap inside the UK 30, giving the Cats the ball back just in time to save another touchdown.

The Bulldogs put the Cats to rest almost immediately after the beginning of the second half. Five minutes into the third quarter, Georgia back Elijah Holyfield punched the ball in from four yards out to put the Bulldogs farther ahead than any UK opponent has been this year.

UK’s offense once again failed to get traction, and the next Georgia drive was even worse. On the second play of the drive, Swift ripped off a, 83-yard run to put the Bulldogs even farther ahead, essentially burying the Cats.

As if matters couldn’t get worse for the home team, safety Darius West committed a targeting foul that got him ejected before offensive lineman Bunchy Stallings was ejected for “making contact with an official” after a Benny Snell touchdown. Snell’s touchdown put him over 1,000 yards on the season, becoming the first Kentucky rusher to ever do so.

The Cats held the Bulldogs to a field goal on the ensuing drive, and then followed it up with a quick, 2:43 drive that ended in a touchdown to bring the Cats within two scores with just over nine minutes left.

Unfortunately for the home team, the rushing attack from Georgia continued, pushing into UK territory behind a 34-yard rush from tailback Jason Stanley. Georgia ran the clock below four minutes before UK got it back, down another field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship.

After that, there just wasn’t enough time in the game for Kentucky to challenge the Bulldogs, even with momentum. The Cats fall to 7-2 and will travel to Knoxville next weekend to take on Tennessee.