Fans across the Commonwealth had a collective heartbreak last night in Kentucky’s close loss to Georgia at home. With so much on the line to get first place in the SEC East, the energy at Commonwealth Stadium was electric. But just when you think we’ve got it, you remember how Kentucky Football can break your heart.
There is no way you can mention the good parts of Kentucky’s game against Georgia without mentioning the true freshman and standout, Bennny Snell, Jr. The running back rushed 21 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns to finish the game. And though he had several major plays and saves for the Wildcats, the game did not end how he had hoped. However, that doesn’t take anything away from arguably Snell’s best game of the season. Maybe he can parlay that momentum and intensity into Tennessee next weekend.
And you can’t forget Jordan Jones! The defensive linebacker for Kentucky had his season’s best performance. The sophomore was everywhere. He ended with 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one forced fumble.
But despite Jones’ performance, it just wasn’t enough to bring home the W. The Cats have been somehow winning games this season despite being last in turnover margin. This time, Kentucky’s two detrimental turnovers caught up to them and gave Georgia its edge.
“The turnovers were the difference, or a big part of it,” said head coach Mark Stoops. “We were up 2-0 at the half with turnovers and to me didn’t play as good as we could in the first half, but did get a couple turnovers that helped us. We put it on the ground three times and lose two in the second (half). And that can’t happen because it was putting the defense in some bad spots. Those possessions really hurt. Those were one, two possessions and that hurts to go right back on the field. That’s a physical team.”
The first turnover was close to landing in Kentucky’s favor, but it was an overturned call on a Wildcat fumble when Garrett Johnson took a hard hit. This gave Georgia the ball and an eventual field goal to cut UK’s lead to 21-16.
The following Kentucky possession, Stephen Johnson threw a long pass to Jeff Badet. The ball landed in Badet’s hands but only briefly before it deflected into the hands of the Georgia defender. Johnson and Badet have connected on that long pass before but that deflection was a crucial part of the game. It could have perhaps been a touchdown or at least a field goal, but regardless would’ve completely flipped the field on one play. After that turnover the defense has to immediately come back on the field. You could see those guys wearing down late in the game.
After the turnover, Georgia scored a touchdown to go up and the rest is sad, sad history.
I already mentioned what an amazing game Benny Snell Jr. had last night. He broke Randall Cobb’s Freshman TD record and got Kentucky near the goal line at a crucial point in the game when a touchdown could have changed the outcome of the game. But that’s where it gets ugly.
Instead of giving the ball to Benny to run one more time on third and short, Kentuky opted to have Johnson throw a fade pass to the end zone that resulted in an incomplete pass. Thus came a field goal for Kentucky to tie the game 24-24 with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Choosing not to capitalize on the momentum and adrenaline of Benny Snell Jr. could have been the difference for Kentucky. With UK only tying the game up, Georgia was able to run the clock all the way down for the game-winning field goal.
This one of course hurts with the chance to move into first place in the SEC East. Plenty of frustration for sure but this team has come a long way this season. This program has come a long way. The bowl goals are still in place. These guys need the support of the BBN the rest of the way. Now the ‘Cats must learn from their mistakes before heading on the road to Tennessee next weekend.
Kentucky will play the Vols at noon which can be seen on the SEC Network.