ATHENS, Ga.—After the Georgia Bulldogs had lost three of their previous four games, and experienced a week of media members suggesting their head coach’s firing, along with swirling rumors of dissension amongst the coaching staff, many waited with baited breath to see how Mark Richt’s team would respond to all the adversity this afternoon against Kentucky.
In front of a number of empty seasons at Sanford Stadium, due in part because of a longstanding threat of rain which never came, Georgia responded by playing one of its best games of the season in a 27-3 victory over the Wildcats.
“All this week, [the team] did a really good job of staying focus on what was really important, and handling a lot of things that were swirling around—we all know what I’m talking about,” Richt said following the game, referring to the rumors of dissension amongst the staff. “It was a good day—a good solid victory. And, I’m really proud of our players.”
After an FBS-leading 29 consecutive offensive possessions without scoring a touchdown, the Bulldogs finally found the end zone with just under nine minutes left in the opening quarter. Freshman receiver Terry Godwin, who had yet to record a rushing attempt this season entering the game, scored on a 28-yard run where he fumbled first, retrieved the loose ball, and then continued running for pay dirt.
After leading by a score of only 10-to-3 at halftime, Georgia came out in the second half, exhibiting a running attack that had not been evident since early in the season.
Midway through the third quarter, sophomore tailback Sony Michel capped a 10-play, 52-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs a 17-3 lead. Michel was absolutely spectacular today, rushing for a career-high 165 yards on 24 carries.
“I would say, yes, in a way,” Michel said on overcoming any off-the-field distractions this past week. “But, we kind of blocked all that stuff out and got back to what we have been doing, and who we are.”
Less than four minutes following Michel’s touchdown, quarterback Greyson Lambert completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to junior tailback Keith Marshall. For the game, Lambert and backup Brice Ramsey combined to complete 10 of 19 passes for only 90 yards but, because of the Bulldogs’ potent rushing attack, they hardly had to pass. Besides his touchdown reception, Marshall rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries.
Michel and Marshall spearheaded a ground game which gained 300 yards—or, the most by the Bulldogs since the Kentucky game a year ago—while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Still, perhaps even more impressive than Georgia’s rushing game was its defense, which allowed the Wildcats to net only 180 total yards on 47 plays.
After completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for the season for an average of nearly 240 passing yards per game, Kentucky standout quarterback Patrick Towles was limited to 8-of-21 passing for 96 yards, and two interceptions—both corralled by sophomore safety Dominick Sanders. Senior linebacker Jake Ganus led the Bulldogs with eight tackles.
“It hasn’t been that tough,” Ganus said on overcoming adversity this week. “I think on the outside it looks a lot worse than it has been on the inside. We are together. We are a family and we are a tight unit. When stuff like that (the adversity) happens, we just get even closer. When you put our backs against the wall, we just come out fighting.”
As was the case today, the Bulldogs must continue to come out fighting with three remaining regular-season games—all of which likely won’t be as easy as today’s affair—beginning with Auburn next week on the road.
“Going to Auburn is tough,” Richt declared. “It’s going to be a big one for both of us.”