LEXINGTON, Ky. — After building a 16-point lead into the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Kentucky, the Georgia Bulldogs held on late to ensure they would go home with another hard-earned SEC win.
No. 1 Georgia held off a late rally in Kentucky by making crucial stops on the Wildcats’ final two drives to secure a 16-6 win on the road. Points were hard to come by that night for the Bulldogs, who ultimately found three Jack Podlesny field goals and a Kenny McIntosh rushing touchdown to surpass Kentucky.
As a result of Saturday’s action, Georgia beat Kentucky for a 13th straight season and sealed an undefeated record in this season’s SEC game, only the 11th in program history.
Georgia (11-0, 8-0 SEC) held Kentucky (6-5, 3-5 SEC) in front of the quarterback for most of the game Will Levis and companies did some magic early in the fourth quarter.
A turnover by the Bulldogs at downs left the Wildcats 16 on their own 1-yard line, but Kentucky’s offense proved up to the challenge. Levis fired Barion Brown for a momentous 42-yard gain to put Kentucky in Georgia territory and take the Wildcats to the abyss of points. The Bulldogs forced a crucial fourth and two on their own 8-yard line before Levis spotted Brown wide open on his way to the end zone and hit him for a touchdown.
Levis’ pass failed on Kentucky’s 2-point conversion attempt, leaving Georgia 16-6 ahead, 9-52 in the game. Levis finished the 20-of-31 loss by passing 206 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
A faltering drive on Georgia’s next possession returned the ball to Kentucky, who found themselves on their own 10 with 6:55 left. Levis made another big play through the air by finding Brown for a 47-yard gain, and by the seventh play of the drive the Wildcats were up to Georgia 17.
The Bulldogs’ defense unbuckled from there.
Javon Bullard and Robert Bel tripped Levis for a four-yard sack before Levis’ third and twelfth passes went wide. Instead of trying to convert the long fourth down, the Wildcats sent kickers Matt Ruffolowho missed wide left from 38 yards to return the ball to Georgia.
The Bulldogs ran about a minute and a half past the game clock before having to toss the ball back to the Wildcats, who took the ball on their own 25-yard line with 2:32 left. Kentucky was as far as his own 42 before Jalon Walker and Mikel Williams combined for a big tackle for the loss on the third down and Levis’ fourth downpass fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.
The Bulldogs made three trips to the red zone in the first half, but settled for three field goals from Podlesny before eventually breaking through with their first possession of the second half.
Georgia got the ball to start the third quarter and relied heavily on his running game to power an eight-play 58-yard drive. The Bulldogs kept the ball on the ground for seven of those eight games, the last of which McIntosh broke through a hole on the left side of the Georgia defense and put it the longest for the game’s first touchdown.
McIntosh’s result led to a 16-0 contest going 6-22 in the third quarter. He finished the game with 19 carries for 143 yards and 1 touchdown.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spoke to reporters shortly after Saturday’s win. Below is what Smart said in full: