The center of the Commonwealth of Kentucky this week was not at the Breeders’ Cup or what was happening around Rupp Arena. No, the center of the state was at Kroger Field in Lexington as the No. 9 Wildcats battled No. 6 Georgia for the SEC East title and an elusive trip to Atlanta at the beginning of the next month.
Unfortunately for the blue-clad fans giving their all, UK will need another rally if they’re to complete this Cinderella season as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-3 lead at halftime in a game that was very predictably dominated by the two defenses.
The Bulldogs tried to take part of the frenzied crowd out of the game early, forcing a three-and-out on defense initially and then showcasing Mecole Hardman’s speed with a 65 yard punt return that would setup their first score. That came just four plays later when Isaac Nauta hauled in a short pass from quarterback Jake Fromm, who was otherwise solid (if perhaps unspectacular) in throwing for 86.
The sophomore signal-caller was replaced in a few situations by backup Justin Fields (five yards rushing) but it was mostly the ground game that powered UGA in the half. Elijah Holyfield was the typical workhorse with 33 hard-fought yards while D’Andre Swift capped off a 57 yard effort with a remarkable 20 yard scamper into the end zone up the middle.
Though the scoreboard didn’t indicate it, Kentucky offense wasn’t too bad all things considered but did have a first quarter fumble that stymied one of their drives. Benny Snell finished with 61 yards on 17 carries and QB Terry Wilson threw for 66 yards, often seeing plenty of pressure on his dropbacks and taking two sacks as a result. Defensively, Josh Allen was once again a monster coming off the edge and recorded two fumbles to go along with a tackle for loss.
The Wildcats have trailed before at halftime and rallied several times this season so they’re not in an unfamiliar position. Of course, they haven’t been playing teams like Georgia — who are looking like they want to clinch another trip to the SEC Championship Game today and are, so far, on their way to doing just that.