November 21, 2009

Dawgs suffer total meltdown

Georgia's game against Kentucky Saturday night can be summed up with just one word - meltdown.

That's the only way you can describe what happened to the Bulldogs after four second-half turnovers helped lead to the 28 points that enabled the Wildcats to win 34-27, Kentucky's first victory at Sanford Stadium since 1977.

"You can play hard, you can do a lot of great things but if you don't take care of the ball, you're not going to win," head coach Mark Richt said. "That was pretty much the story of the game."

Richt wasn't kidding.

With 2:21 to go, Georgia appeared to be driving for the tying score only to have freshman Washaun Ealey fumble at the Kentucky 2 giving the football back to the Wildcats.

If that weren't bad enough, after Georgia's defense would actually hold and following a punt, the Bulldogs took over at their own 47 with 1:52 left.

But whatever chances Georgia might have had ended when quarterback Joe Cox's first pass was intercepted by linebacker Sam Maxwell enabling Kentucky to run out the clock.

"It's not good," Cox said. "We had our opportunity and we blew it."

It's hard to argue otherwise.

After forcing a punt with less than five minutes to play, Georgia used a 38-yard pass from Cox to Tavarres King and a fourth-down pass of 13-yards to Orson Charles before Ealey rumbled for 14 yards down to the Kentucky 8.

The Bulldogs appeared on the verge of tying the contest after Branden Smith took a direct snap and weaved his way down to the 2. But the Bulldogs would get no closer.

On the next play, Ealey fumbled at the 2 and recovered by linebacker Danny Trevathan with just over two minutes go.

"I put the ball on the ground, that's something I can't do," Ealey said. "I just dropped the ball."

Nobody saw this one coming.

Moments after tying the game at 27-27 on a 60-yard swing pass from Morgan Newton to Derrick Locke, Cox was intercepted on Georgia's ensuing possession by defensive tackle Shane McCord who rumbled forward to the 8-yard line.

Two plays later, Randall Cobb scored from 1-yard out and the Wildcats were up 34-27, much to the dismay of the crowd of 92,746.

"We just did things that you can't do," Cox said. "That's really all you can say. I think we did some good things in the first half and in the second half, but we turned the ball over. They made plays and we didn't. We had had the turnover on the goal line at the end. We just did a lot of things you can't do."

Georgia appeared to have the game in hand after leading 20-6 at the half, but the Wildcats had yet to catch their second wind.

The Bulldogs didn't help themselves when Smith fumbled the third quarter kickoff to set up Randall Cobb's 12-yard run to pull within 20-13.

Georgia would respond on a 44-yard pass from Cox to Rantavious Wooten, his second touchdown of the night, only to have the Wildcats answer right back to close the gap to 27-20 when Newton completed a 21-yard pass to LaRod King with five minutes to go in the third before adding their final two scores to secure the win.

"This was huge," Cobb said. "I think this was a win to take us to the next level and give us some national credibility and earn us some respect."

Kentucky took a 6-0 lead on its second possession of the ground, using a 21 yard punt return by Cobb to set up a four-play 48-yard drive, which freshman quarterback Morgan Newton capped with a 19-yard pass to Locke.

A personal foul for a late hit of bounds by Bulldog Reshad Jones helped keep the drive alive.

Fortunately for Georgia, a bobbled snap cost Kentucky the extra point, making the score 6-0.

On Georgia's next possession, it appeared that the Bulldogs would quickly take the lead as a trio of passes from Cox to Charles covering 24, 13 and 16 yards helped Georgia move the football to the Kentucky 2, following a 9-yard run by Ealey.

But the Bulldogs got no closer. A second-down pass by Cox brought up third down before Ealey was knocked for a 1-yard loss by Maxwell forcing Georgia to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.

Georgia scored again on its next possession, this time on Cox's 21-yard pass to Wooten, the first touchdown of his career.

The Bulldogs weren't done.

On Georgia's ensuing possession, a 34-yard pass from Cox to Tavarrres King helped the Bulldogs get out of a third-and-24 hole to the Kentucky 48. Three plays later, Cox found a wide-open Charles, who dove into the left-corner of the end zone for a 17-6 edge before Walsh's 45-yard field goal capped the first-half scoring.

"We wanted to honor our seniors tonight, and we did that in our pregame ceremony," Richt said. "I think the guys honored our seniors with their effort. Effort wasn't the issues. The issue was turnovers."

Georgia returns to action next Saturday at arch-rival Georgia Tech.

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