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Wildcats Fall to Georgia: Sunday Morning Edition

Benny Snell Jr. finds the end zone during last night’s game.
Curtis Compton

Saturday night the Kentucky Wildcats walked into Commonwealth stadium to 62,507 fans and an opportunity to not only take a one-game lead in the SEC East, but also officially become eligible for a post-season bowl game. Though they led for 17 of the total 27 drives during the game, Kentucky came up short as Georgia kicked a field goal when the clock expired to win the game 27-24.

Kentucky started the game with a three & out on offense, followed by a touchdown given up on defense. The early deficit was unfamiliar territory for the Wildcats, as they’d struck first in each of their previous three wins.

Trailing 7-0, however, the Cats needed just two drives to find the end zone and tie the game. A drive of five plays and 67 yards, led by running backs Stanley "Boom" Williams and Benny Snell Jr., was capped off with Snell’s rushing TD.

Though the Wildcats gave up a FG on the next drive and then went three & out on offense, J.D. Harmon recovered a muffed punt that put the offense back on the field at Georgia’s 38-yard line. Williams than carried the ball three times for 38 yards, finding the end zone on his third attempt.

Leading 14-10, Kentucky gave up a FG just one drive later to close out the half.

Georgia received the second half kickoff, only to fumble the ball two plays into their drive. Kentucky, receiving the ball on Georgia’s 33-yard line, went just three plays for -8 yards and was forced to punt.

The defense for Kentucky came up big once again, though, forcing Georgia into a three & out. The Wildcats then took advantage of the favorable field position, running five plays for 56 yards and a touchdown to take a 21-13 lead. Snell carried the ball four times for 51 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was Snell’s second of the game and tenth on the season, breaking former Wildcat Randal Cobb’s freshman record of nine.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, this would be the peak of their performance. Kentucky’s defense forced yet another punt, but offset the punt with a fumble on the succeeding drive. The fumble lead to a Georgia field goal, cutting the Wildcat lead to 21-16.

Jeff Badet.

Badet had been a stud of late, recording 12 catches for 251 yards and three touchdowns during the three-game winning streak.

However, he would bobble a deep pass by Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson and allow the pass to be intercepted on the drive following Georgia’s field goal.

Taking over at their 23-yard line, Georgia was held in check by Kentucky’s defense. Following the turnover, Georgia was held to a punt and fumble. However, Kentucky would be just as unproductive with two punts themselves.

With just over 11 minutes left, Georgia made their stand. They drove the ball 67 yards for a touchdown, along with a 2-point conversion, to take a 24-21 lead. Kentucky responded, however, with a 14 play 68 yard field goal drive to tie it at 24.

The offense left just enough time on the clock, however, as Georgia was able to advance into field goal range and kick the game winner.

The loss not only lessened Kentucky’s chances at winning the East, but also puts their bowl game berth on hold. Now 5-3, Kentucky must win one of their three remaining games to advance to a bowl game this postseason.

Kentucky became one dimensional, with Johnson completing just 10-20 passes for 103 yards and throwing one interception. Dorian Baker was the team’s leading receiver with three catches for 42 yards.

Snell Jr. continued his strong freshman campaign, rushing 21 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Boom also found success in the rushing attack, caring the ball 14 times for 77 yards and one touchdown.

Kentucky’s schedule only gets tougher next weekend, as they travel to Tennessee for a SEC showdown. With Austin Peay still remaining, however, the odds of a bowl berth are high. Kentucky plays Tennessee at 12 P.M. next Saturday in Knoxville.