Rapid Reaction: Swift, Georgia shake off slow start in shutout win over Kentucky
With a persistent weather system camped over much of the Southeast, Saturday night’s game against No. 10 Georgia and Kentucky in Athens, Ga., wasn’t the most entertaining game of the season and took place in a rainstorm.
But the Bulldogs, looking for a bounce-back win after a loss to unranked South Carolina last Saturday, rode a big second half by D’Andre Swift and a stellar defensive performance to defeat the Wildcats 21-0 at Sanford Stadium.
A sleepy start to either team’s offense didn’t do much to brighten the mood of fans gathered in the midst of the rains from Post-Tropical Storm Nestor. The first half ended with Georgia outgaining Kentucky 123-51—with the Wildcats only picking up 2 first downs to Georgia’s 6 and ending the opening 30 minutes with 0 passing yards.
Georgia’s offense received a glimmer of hope in the 3rd quarter as Wildcats punter Max Duffy shanked an attempt that went out of bounds at Kentucky’s own 39-yard line, the Dawgs’ best field position of the game by far. And that glimmer was all they needed: Swift took the ball on the first play of the drive and rumbled straight to the end zone for the first points of the night with 6:20 left in the quarter.
Kentucky needed a response, but another self-inflicted wound put it in a deeper hole. After Richard LeCounte forced a Lynn Bowden fumble at the Wildcats 31, the Dawgs were back in the end zone 5 plays later courtesy of Brian Herrien’s 8-yard run. Georgia led 14-0 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd.
While it wasn’t an insurmountable lead, Georgia’s defense — which gave up less than 200 yards of offense — put Kentucky in desperation mode. The Wildcats looked as if they would swing back on their ensuing drive with a big 57-yard kick return by Zach Johnson and a 21-yard run by Bowden. Then a Georgia facemask call set up a goal-to-go situation, but the opportunity fizzled out and the Bulldogs regained possession deep in their own territory to begin the 4th.
With Jake Fromm struggling to find open receivers downfield, Georgia opted to largely keep it on the ground on its next drive and let Swift and Herrien continue to wear the Kentucky defense down. And after 12 plays, 89 yards and just over 8 minutes, Swift punched one in from 3 yards out for his second touchdown of the evening to put the Dawgs in full control.