LEXINGTON, Ky. — Powered by a dominant rushing attack, the No. 1-ranked Georgia football team held off Kentucky, 16-6, on a cold Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field.
With the win, the Bulldogs clinched a second straight undefeated run through their SEC regular-season schedule. It was Georgia’s 13th win in a row over the Wildcats.
Kenny McIntosh led the way on the ground, rushing for a career-high 143 yards and a 9-yard touchdown on 19 attempts. Georgia (11-0, 8-0 SEC) outgained the Wildcats 365-289, gaining 249 yards rushing on 44 carries.
Kentucky (6-5, 3-5) got the ball first and drove down to the Georgia 31-yard line. The Bulldog defense stuffed the Wildcats on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 to turn the ball over on downs. Georgia’s offense then drove down to the Wildcat 10 before settling for a 27-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 3-0 lead with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Kentucky moved the ball deep into Georgia territory again on its second drive, but on third-and-12 at the UGA 18, cornerback Kelee Ringo intercepted Will Levis’ pass near the goal line and returned it 45 yards.. The Bulldogs quickly drove inside the 10-yard line, but the drive stalled there. Podlesny’s 24-yard field goal pushed the lead to 6-0 with 3:40 left in the first half.
Georgia’s defense forced a three-and-out on Kentucky’s next possession, giving the offense the ball back at the UGA 24 with 2:03 left on the clock. Bennett led the Bulldogs down to the Kentucky 20, and Podlesny put Georgia up 9-0 at the half with a 37-yard field goal as time expired. It was the fifth time this season that the Bulldogs didn’t allow any points in the first half.
Kentucky picked off a Bennett deep ball on Georgia’s drive to open the second half, taking over at the Wildcat 11. The Bulldog defense pushed the Wildcats backward on the ensuing drive, forcing a punt from the end zone.
Georgia started its next drive from its 42 and used its running game to get into the end zone for the first time. Kendall Milton ran for a combined 28 yards on the first three plays, Daijun Edwards had an 8-yard run, followed by a 4-yard reception, and then McIntosh did the rest. An 8-yard McIntosh run gave Georgia first-and-goal at the 10, and two plays later, he ran the ball in for a 9-yard touchdown and a 16-0 lead with 6:22 remaining in the third.
The Bulldogs’ next drive included a 35-yard pass from Bennett to Dominick Blaylock on third-and-6 at the Georgia 31. Later, on third-and-7 at the Kentucky 31, McIntosh ran left for 23 yards down to the 8 — the run put McIntosh over 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time in his career. On fourth-and-goal at the 1, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Milton was stopped short of the goal line.
Kentucky took over on downs at its 1 and drove 99 yards for a touchdown, scoring from the 8 on fourth-and-2. The Wildcats then went for the 2-point conversion and came up empty, making it 16-6 Georgia with 9:52 remaining.
The Wildcats forced the Bulldogs to punt for the first time on Georgia’s next possession. Brett Thorson’s boot, a 48-yarder, went out of bounds at the Kentucky 10 with 6:55 to play in the game. Kentucky then connected on a 47-yard completion on the first play of the drive, and proceeded to work its way down inside the Georgia 20.
On second-and-9 at the UGA 16, defensive back Javon Bullard sacked Levis for a 4-yard loss. Kentucky later missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt, giving the Bulldogs the ball back at their 20 with 4:17 remaining.
The Bulldogs were forced to punt on their next drive, and the Wildcats took over at their 25, with 2:32 left in the game. Georgia’s defense came up big one more time, stopping Kentucky and turning the ball over on downs with 1:17 remaining.
Georgia wrap up its regular season at home next Saturday against Georgia Tech. After that. the Bulldogs take on No. 6 LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Atlanta.