Bowl streak ends as Cats fall to Georgia 19-10

After a defensive struggle between the hedges in Athens, Ga., the Georgia Bulldogs clinched the SEC East title and a spot in the SEC championship game with a 19-10 win at home over UK on senior day. With the loss, the Cats fell to 4-7 on the year, 1-6 in SEC play, and were eliminated from bowl contention. This season will snap a five-year streak of bowl appearances for the program.

Both defenses were up to the task in a low-scoring affair that limited both teams to just two combined touchdowns. After holding Georgia to just two field goals for the first half, UK received a beneficial pass interference call that set the offense up with a first and goal scenario on the two yard line. On the next play, freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith utilized a play-action fake to find his tight end Tyler Robinson wide open on the backside for a wide open touchdown. The score put UK ahead 10-6, and provoked dancing and celebrating on the sideline by a few UK players.

After allowing another field goal to cut the lead to 10-9, UK sent freshman Ashley Lowery deep to return a kick-off that would likely keep possession with the Cats heading into the half, with the Cats maintaining a halftime lead. But Lowery fumbled the kick-off, setting up the Bulldogs with a fourth field goal in the half and a 12-10 lead heading into the locker room.

After a scoreless third quarter in which UK actually lost yards (-2 yards for the quarter) Georgia turned a Smith interception into a touchdown from quarterback Aaron Murray to wide receiver Marlon Brown for the Bulldogs’ only touchdown of the game. With the lead extended to 19-10, a sputtering UK offense stood little chance of establishing two scoring drives.

The Cats’ defense had one of its best performances of the year, holding the Bulldogs to just one touchdown and forcing four turnovers on the afternoon. Per usual, the defense was led by senior linebacker Danny Trevathan, who recorded 17 tackles (tying a career high) including three for a loss. His forced fumble in the second quarter was his fourth of the season, good enough to lead the team.

Trevathan increased his career tackles to 366, good enough for 10th all-time in program history. He now has recorded double digit tackles in 17 of his last 20 games dating back to last season.

Despite the defense, the offense was unable to do enough to keep UK in the game against a Georgia defense that ranks third in the SEC in points allowed. Smith finished the game 17-34 passing for 133 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Cats three running backs, CoShik Williams, Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George combined for 16 carries for just 48 yards, an average of three yards per rush.

The offense opened up with aggressive play calling, including an attempt at a fake field goal and a number of passes down the field. But it wasn’t long until offensive coordinator Randy Sanders reverted back to UK’s predictable, screen-heavy offense. The Georgia defense was not fooled for most of the game, keeping the Cats’ offense in check.

Now that UK won’t be crashing the postseason party, its season will come to an end next Saturday against arch-rival Tennessee at Senior Day. Kick-off is scheduled for 12:21 with Senior Day festivities to precede the game. The game will be televised by the SEC Network, with coverage beginning at noon.