LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky made a fourth-quarter push for an upset against the No. 1 team in the country, but it was too little, too late. The Georgia Bulldogs wore down the Wildcats for a 16-6 victory inside Kroger Field Saturday evening.
With the loss, Kentucky moves to 6-5 on the season and and 3-5 in the SEC. Georgia stays perfect with an 11-0 record heading into the final week of the regular season.
Kentucky's defense bounced back from a disappointing outing against Vanderbilt in a big way throughout the the entire night, and Brad White's unit kept Kentucky in the game in the first half. Through the first 30 minutes of football, Georgia earned 161 net yards of offense for an average of 5.2 yards per play, which is well under their season-average of 7.1. The Bulldogs were 3-6 on third downs and were forced to settle for field goals on each of their first three trips into Kentucky territory.
Kentucky's early-game offense was a different story. Will Levis was 6-of-8 in the air for 63 yards in the first half, but an interception in the second quarter was another glaring mistake in the red zone. Chris Rodriguez tallied 30 yards on 14 carries in the first half, while Barion Brown had two catches for 27 yards.
Georgia led 9-0 at the break.
The Cats defense maintained its intensity to start the third quarter, most-notably due to a Jordan Lovett interception that put the ball back into the hands of Will Levis with no additional Bulldog points on the board. However, Kentucky's resulting drive was a quick three-and-out for the offense, and punter Wilson Berry had to kick from Kentucky's own end zone. Georgia relished the opportunity to work with a short field, and they responded with the first touchdown of the game.
Now trailing 16-0, Kentucky's offensive struggles continued. Their third consecutive three-and-out drive quickly put UK's defense back on the field. Another massive third-down stop at the end of the third quarter gave Georgia Coach Kirby Smart a decision to make to start the fourth quarter, and he elected to go for it on fourth-and-1. Again, Kentucky's defense came up clutch. Jordan Wright and Jamarius Dinkins were credited with the tackle on the goal line to keep the score at 16-0.
Levis lit a fire under his offense on the following drive. A quarterback run, a bulldozing rush by Rodriguez, and a series of impressive catches by Brown and freshman tight end Josh Kattus propelled the Cats back into the red zone, where an 8-yard pass from Levis to Brown put six points on the board for Kentucky.
The two-point conversion was unsuccessful. Georgia led 16-6.
Will Levis lit a fire under his offense on that drive & the Cats drive 99 yards for the first time since 2015…— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisTV) November 19, 2022
Touchdown, Kentucky. 9 plays, 99 yards, 5:02 off the clock
After more than five minutes had ticked off the game clock, UK's defense finally had a chance to catch its breath. It played in their favor, and the Bulldogs were forced to punt.
Levis to Brown continued to spark the Kentucky offense, which looked as aggressive as it had all season. Nine plays and 70 yards later, the Cats were back in the red zone, but another poor snap led to a missed field goal. The score remained unchanged: 16-6 Georgia, with time starting the dwindle.
Levis and the offense got another look at the Bulldogs' defense, with a drive that started on the 25-yard line following an interference call against Georgia. The magic had worn off, and Kentucky turned the ball over on downs. Georgia ran the clock the rest of the way.
Kentucky finished with 288 total yards of offense. Levis was 18-28 for 199 yards and one touchdown in the air, while adding 26 yards on the ground. Barion Brown had 10 catches for 145 yards.
The Wildcats will finish the regular season next Saturday against in-state rival Louisville. Cats vs. Cards is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff on the SEC Network.