No. 5 Georgia earns 11th consecutive win over Kentucky 14-3
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Zamir White and fifth-ranked Georgia ran with relative ease to start each half, reaching the end zone both times.
Other moments were more of a scrum for the Bulldogs, who emerged dinged but glad to have won again by making those limited chances stand up against Kentucky.
White rushed for a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown, Stetson Bennett also ran for a score and Georgia beat the Wildcats 14-3 on Saturday for its 11th straight win in the series.
The Bulldogs (4-1 Southeastern Conference) improved to 5-1 after byes under coach Kirby Smart. Georgia’s 215 yards on the ground nearly outgained the Wildcats’ total yardage (229).
Bennett completed 9 of 13 passes for 131 yards with two interceptions.
White carried 26 times, also a career best, including a fourth-and-1 burst for an easy 22-yard TD and double-digit lead early in the third quarter. Bennett’s 2-yard score capped an 86-yard, 12-play initial drive that set the tone for Georgia’s control of the line of scrimmage on its limited possessions.
White wasn’t made available after the game but Bennett had plenty of praise for the sophomore.
“We’ve been waiting on it,” the QB said. “We knew it was going to come, he’s a great back. Great to see him get what he deserves.”
James Cook added 39 yards rushing on six carries and Kendall Milton 31 on eight attempts as Georgia earned its longest winning streak against Kentucky. The Bulldogs also bounced back from a loss at No. 2 Alabama two weeks ago.
“We came in with the mindset that we wanted to score every single possession we got the ball and do it by any means necessary,” Smart said. “Whether that was run the ball, throw the ball, we take what they give you and that’s what we were doing.”
Chris Rodriguez rushed 20 times for 108 yards for Kentucky (2-4), which only managed Matt Ruffolo’s 34-yard field goal in dropping its second in a row. Quarterback Joey Gatewood was 15 of 25 passing for 91 yards in his first start in place of Terry Wilson, who was out with an injured wrist.
“Credit to Georgia’s defense,” Gatewood said. “They are physical. They are a good team and were prepared.”
Kentucky defensive tackle Phil Hoskins made an impressive follow-through, knocking into Bennett and staying with the ball to make an interception. It marked the Wildcats’ 10th pickoff in the last four games and stopped Georgia’s quest to add to its 7-3 lead just before halftime.
Georgia defensive end Malik Herring began the game wearing one of two No. 10 jerseys (teams sometimes have duplicate numbers for players on both sides of the ball) before twice switching to No. 30 and then back to his original number during the game.
Georgia was workmanlike but likely reinforced its top-five credentials with the win.
Georgia was nothing if not efficient in opening both halves with impressive long touchdown drives on a day it had the ball for just 25 minutes. Bennett continued to struggle with interceptions. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, their defense made sure Kentucky stayed primarily with the run before shutting it down at key times to keep the Wildcats out of the end zone. They also recorded four sacks despite losing several players to injury during the game.
Kentucky’s offense figured to stay on the ground in Gatewood’s first start, and the Wildcats had promising moments with Rodriguez and the QB running the ball. But a week after mustering just 145 yards at Missouri, they reached Georgia territory just twice and Gatewood fumbled away one solid opportunity at the 36. Getting only a field goal on a 19-play, 77-yard drive covering 10:28 demonstrated their offensive struggles.
“We’re playing physical enough on both sides of the line of scrimmage to win games like that,” coach Mark Stoops said. “We have to create opportunities for big plays, we have to get the ball in the end zone. The long drive we had in the second quarter, got three (points) out of it, you need to punch that in and put pressure on them. That was the big difference in the game.”
Georgia faces No. 10 Florida on Saturday in the annual rivalry showdown in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kentucky has a bye before hosting Vanderbilt on Nov. 14.
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