6:22:44:Football vs. Florida

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops yells at an official during the University of Kentucky vs. Florida football game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 20-13. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

No. 11 Kentucky suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday, falling to No. 1 Georgia in Athens, 30-13. 

The win for Georgia gives the Bulldogs sole possession of first place in the SEC East. 

“I want to give [Georgia] the respect they deserve,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “That is a complete football team.” 

Georgia outgained Kentucky 416 yards to 243, led by a balanced offense that accumulated 250 passing yards and 166 rushing yards.  

Will Levis completed 32 of his 42 attempts for 192 yards and two touchdowns. UGA’s Stetson Bennett racked up 250 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 completions. 

“I really thought [Levis] competed his tail off and played exceptionally hard and gave us an opportunity,” Stoops said.  

Kentucky rushed for just 51 yards on 27 attempts. Chris Rodriguez Jr was held in check by the Bulldog defense, the SEC’s leading-rusher gained just seven yards on seven carries.  

“It was disappointing to not be effective at all in the run game,” Stoops said. “[Georgia has a lot to do with it...they’ve got difference makers at all levels.” 

Kentucky received the opening kickoff and proceeded to march into Georgia territory. Following three rushes to begin the game, Levis found Wan’Dale Robinson for a 14-yard gain. UGA would deny the ‘Cats a second first-down, forcing a punt.  

The Wildcat defense would hold stout on Georgia’s first drive, holding the bulldogs to just five plays, ending with a punt. Yusuf Corker made himself known early, earning a tackle-for-loss and pass breakup on the drive.  

Both the ‘Cats and Bulldogs would punt again on their second drives. Stetson Bennett completed a pass to Adonai Mitchell for the only first down between either team. 

UK would go three-and-out again, failing to reach the first-down marker after three rushes. A holding penalty pushed the Wildcats back to their own five-yard line. 

Georgia would take over with great field position and immediately move into Kentucky territory. The first play of the second quarter saw James Cook break off a 19-yard run to the endzone for UGA’s first score of the day.  

Kentucky was unable to respond, as their offensive struggles continued. A Levis scramble on third down left UK short once again, forcing another punt.  

The Bulldogs would quickly go up two scores, as White took a 24-yard run to the house. It took UGA just four plays to travel from their own 12-yard line to the endzone. In a matter of minutes, Georgia was smelling blood in the water.  

UK would hold their own, breaking their streak of punts after a 13-play drive ended with Levis connecting with Justin Rigg for a one-yard score. A third-down pass interference penalty against UGA extended the drive just three plays before the touchdown.  

Rigg caught all four of his targets on the day for 24 yards.  

Kentucky then forced a three-and-out of their own, attempting to turn the tide between the hedges. With just over two minutes remaining, UK had a chance to drive the field and tie the game heading into halftime 

The Georgia defense had other things in mind. Jalen Carter sacked Levis on third and long, forcing the fifth Colin Goodfellow punt of the half. UGA would kneel it into halftime, leading 14-7. 

UGA outgained the ‘Cats 186 yards to 115 in the first half, led by the deadly running duo of White and Cook. Bennett completed just five of 10 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. 

“There’s so many things that were self-inflicted...we have to execute at a higher level,” Stoops said. 

Georgia would come out of the locker room guns blazing, marching down the field and scoring in just five plays. Bennett landed his first of two touchdown passes to Bowers, this time for 27 yards.  

Kentucky’s offense sputtered in comparison, as Levis was once again sacked on third down, ending with another UK three-and-out.  

With an opportunity to blow the game wide open, UGA was once again able to move the ball down the field. Jack Podlesny connected on a 26-yard field goal to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to three scores.  

The teams would again trade punts as Kentucky’s time was ticking away.  

Two completions from Levis to DeMarcus Harris began a drive that saw Mark Ruffolo attempt a 33-yard field goal that would be blocked by UGA’s Devonte Wyatt, ending the third quarter 

Georgia would pile it on, as the Bennett and Bowers connection struck for a second time for a 20-yard score. The scoring drive for the Bulldogs included three plays for 20 or more yards, slicing up the Wildcat defense.  

Following a missed PAT by Podlesny, Kentucky finished the disappointing game on a positive note.  

A 22-play drive was capped off by a one-yard touchdown from Levis to Robinson. The drive took almost all of the remaining 11:27 left on the game clock. Robinson caught seven passes, accounting for 24 yards of the 75-yard drive 

Georgia would block the PAT and run out the ensuing kickoff as time expired 

“There’s no moral victories,” Stoops said. “Our team knows when we execute and do things well, we could be a pretty good football team. We can’t make mistakes against great teams.” 

The loss drops UK to second place in the SEC East and 6-1 overall. The Wildcats have a bye week awaiting them as they prepare to hit the road once again, where they will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville on Oct. 30. 

“Still love this football team and love the way they work,” Stoops said. We just have to have better disciplined execution...we’ll get back to work.”