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Kentucky Football

Kentucky Offense Still MIA in Loss to Georgia

October 31, 2020

Kentucky hosted Georgia at noon on Halloween, and the game was an absolute slog fest. The clock ticked down quickly thanks to both teams going run heavy, as Kentucky found some yards on the legs of Chris Rodriguez. The Wildcats may have won time of possession in a landslide (35:00 to 25:00), but it never felt as though they controlled the game. The final was 14-3 Georgia.

The Kentucky offense struggled once again, but found some bright spots occasionally, namely Chris Rodriguez’s ability to run into traffic and out the other side. He logged 108 yards on 20 carries. Conversely, Gatewood in his first start made some nice throws, but also showed green mistakes, not seeing wide open receivers on occasion and coughing up a fumble to stop short a key drive in the third quarter. He ran 16 times himself but totaled only 23 yards. Josh Ali came away with five catches for 35 yards, and Allen Dailey came down with several impressive catches of his own, going 18 yards on 3 receptions. The Cats totaled 229 yards of offense, including 138 rush yards and 91 pass yards.

The Kentucky defense also had strong moments, and for the second week in a row did enough to give Kentucky a chance, despite looking slightly underwhelming. Georgia’s run game could not be slowed down, as Quinton Bohanna was sorely missed up front. The Cats came away with two more interceptions, one thanks to Kelvin Joseph down the left sideline and the other and tipped pass and picked all credited to Phil Hoskins. Georgia finished the day with 215 rush yards, led by Zamir White who had a career day with 136 yards on 26 carries. Despite that, Kentucky held Georgia to its lowest score of the season, allowing 10 fewer points than Alabama did two weeks ago. Once again, the defense had some breakdowns that need to be fixed, but this game is ultimately on the nonexistent offense.

First Quarter

Kentucky received the kickoff after Georgia won the coin toss, and went back to their roots, running the ball right off the bat. AJ Rose picked up two yards on 1st down before Gatewood pitched the ball to Ali in the backfield for a gain of four on 2nd down, registering the only pass of the quarter for Kentucky. Joey Gatewood and Chris Rodriguez split the remaining carries on the drive as the Cats’ offense fizzled after 22 yards and six plays. Max Duffy came out to punt and put the Bulldogs on their own 14-yard line.

Georgia also stuck to the running game, finding great success up front. Zamir White took the majority of carries while Kendall Milton also came in for a few. An early facemask on Jordan Wright gave Georgia a boost and they carried that momentum forward, running over the Kentucky defensive line and marching down the field. The drive featured three runs for nine or more yards and was capped by a two-yard score by Stetson Bennett who ran it in himself, untouched. The drive took 5:06 and 12 plays to go 86 yards.

Kentucky came back out after the touchback and once again stuck to the run game with Chris Rodriguez in at running back. Rodriguez picked up five yards on 3rd and two to move the chains. Two more runs by Gatewood brought up another 3rd and two, and this time Gatewood couldn’t escape the cornerback blitz Georgia sent and was sacked for a loss of two yards. Max Duffy once again pinned the Bulldogs deep, this time setting them up at their own eight-yard line.

Zamir White took the first two carries for seven yards, and Stetson Bennett took off to the outside on 3rd and three and picked up the first down before Jamin Davis stripped him on the tackle. Georgia recovered the fumble and got a fresh set of downs. The Bulldogs picked up one more first down before Kentucky’s defense closed in and forced 4th and one thanks to a tackle by DeAndre Square and Jordan Wright that dropped receiver James Cook a yard short of the first down. 

Second Quarter

Kentucky took over two minutes into the second quarter and finally put together the drive they’ve been looking for. The Cats started on their own seven-yard line and went to the air early to get the ball out of the shadow of the end zone. After an incompletion on 1st down, Joey Gatewood hit back to back completions, the second for 11 yards to Allen Dailey to take the Cats out to their 24-yard line. From there the Cats returned to the run game, leaning on Chris Rodriguez who continued to astound with his ability to pick up yards after contact. On the Georgia 43 yard line the Cats faced 4th and one, and once again gave it to Rodriguez, who gained three yards to reset the chains. Kentucky kept the ball moving but eventually got behind the chains thanks to an illegal shift penalty on 1st down. The Cats gained some yards, but never fully recovered and brought Matt Ruffolo out for the field goal attempt. The 34-yard kick was good and the Cats closed the gap to 7-3. The monster drive took 10:28 and 19 plays to go 77 yards.

Georgia got the ball back with just 2:44 left in the half but moved quickly thanks to a 46-yard completion to James Cook on the first play of the drive. Two long rushes by Zamir White brought Georgia to the Kentucky 10 yard line, where Phil Hoskins tipped Bennett’s pass and came down with the interception, denying the Bulldogs any points. 

The Wildcats, with just 1:19 on the clock, chose to run out the time and play conservative but threw on third down. Georgia used all their timeouts to preserve clock and managed to get the ball back with 18 seconds left. 

Stetson Bennett took full advantage of the time on the clock, throwing to the sideline on back to back completions. With one second on the clock, Bennett threw to the end zone where the ball hit the ground, but Kentucky was called for offsides and Georgia got an untimed down. The Bulldogs elected to try a 53-yard field goal, but the attempt, which was already in jeopardy thanks to a bad snap and hold, was blocked by Jamin Davis and the ball was recovered by Jordan Wright to end the half. The Cats went to the locker room down 7-3.

Third Quarter

Georgia came out on offense first and continued to bully the Kentucky defense up front. The seven-play drive featured six runs, including a 22-yard rushing touchdown by Zamir White. On 3rd and two, Josh Paschal came in for a huge tackle, forcing 4th down. The Bulldogs went for it, and Kentucky didn’t leave anyone deep. White punched through the line and had a clear shot to the end zone. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 14-3.

Kentucky came back out needing to answer. The Cats once again leaned on Rodriguez early, giving him four straight carries to start the drive. Rodriguez took off for a 23 yard gain on the second play of the drive, pushing the Cats out to midfield. After two more gains, Gatewood threw on 3rd and four and connected with Allen Dailey who reached for a nice catch and picked up five yards to move the chains. After Gatewood was tackled for no gain on 1st down, he rushed again on 2nd down but fumbled as he was tackled and Georgia recovered.

The Bulldogs, starting on their own 36-yard line, moved out to the 50-yard line on five plays. On 2nd and 10, Bennett threw deep up the left sideline. The receiver stopped running, and Kelvin Joseph was waiting for the ball. He got the interception at the Kentucky 18 yard line, giving the Cats their 11th interception of the season.

Kentucky, desperately needing points, stayed on the ground for the first four plays once again before Gatewood threw to DeMarcus Harris on 3rd and four. The catch was good for eight yards and gave Kentucky a fresh set of downs. Gatewood threw again, this time connecting with Justin Rigg for a gain of two. Rodriguez picked up two more before an incompletion on 3rd down forced the Cats to punt back to Georgia.

Fourth Quarter

Georgia once again came out run-heavy, going to Zamir White early and often. The Cats came up with a few big plays but were able to get out of trouble a few times. On 3rd and six, Kentucky looked to have the stop as the refs brought the chains out and the ball was short, but they then reviewed the play and turned the decision over, giving Georgia a first down. The Cats didn’t let up, forcing 4th and five. The Bulldogs tried to line up quickly and go for it, but Marquez Bembry went down with a cramp and after he was able to leave the field Georgia elected to punt. 

Kentucky opened with a seven-yard completion from Gatewood to Josh Ali, but the Cats didn’t seem in any hurry. After two rushes for a total of eight yards, Gatewood went to the air on 1st and 10. Gatewood hit back to back passes, the second to Dailey gaining two yards on 3rd and three. On 4th and one Rodriguez picked up five yards to keep Kentucky alive, but they ran out after that. After incompletions on 1st and 2nd down, Gatewood connected with Ali but the play was negated due to a holding call on Austin Dotson. On 3rd and 11, Gatewood threw to Justin Rigg for a pickup of five yards before his 4th down throw was very nearly intercepted by Georgia. It fell incomplete, but the Cats turned the ball over on downs and Georgia took over at the Kentucky 42 yard line with 4:10 left to play.

Georgia came out to run the clock down and ran the ball every play of the drive, leading UK to use their timeouts to preserve some time. The Bulldogs went for it on 4th down but did not convert, giving Kentucky the ball back on their own 25.

They struggled to find anything, running the play clock down on almost every play and netting -13 yards on the drive before the clock ran out. Georgia left Kroger Field with a 14-3 victory.

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Kentucky Offense Still MIA in Loss to Georgia

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