Sunday, November 18, 2007

No. 8 Georgia holds off No. 22 Kentucky, 24-13

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia has done all it can. Now, the Bulldogs need a little help to reach the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Knowshon Moreno ran for 124 yards, Matthew Stafford surprised Kentucky with a 10-yard touchdown run and No. 8 Georgia overcame four turnovers and an early deficit to beat 22nd-ranked Kentucky 24-13 Saturday.

The Bulldogs (9-2, 6-2 SEC) clinched at least a tie for first in the Eastern Division and will face top-ranked LSU in the Dec. 1 title game in nearby Atlanta if Tennessee loses either of its last two games.

The Vols were facing state rival Vanderbilt on Saturday, and will close the regular season next weekend at Kentucky.

The Wildcats (7-4, 3-4) didn't have any hope of reaching the SEC championship game, but they were trying to win out and claim at least a share of the division crown. But their high-scoring offense, which was averaging more than 37 points a game, couldn't take advantage of two interceptions and two fumbles by the Bulldogs.

Georgia's defense saved the day, holding Kentucky to its lowest output of the season, despite spotting the Wildcats a 10-lead, and helping avenge a 24-20 loss in Lexington last season.

Woodson, who came in with an SEC-leading 29 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions, had a rough afternoon against Georgia's blitzing defense. He was 24 of 41 for 268 yards, managed only one TD pass and was sacked five times.

The Bulldogs came up with two huge stops in the fourth quarter of their home finale.

First, with the Wildcats facing third-and-4 at the Georgia 15, Marcus Howard sacked Woodson for an 18-yard loss that left the visiting team to attempt a 51-yard field goal. Lones Seiber's kick was wide left and a little short with 10 minutes left.

After Kentucky got it back again deep in its own territory, Geno Atkins forced a punt by dumping Rafael Little for a 2-yard loss on third-and-1 with under 5 minutes to go. Georgia pushed it into field-goal range for Brandon Coutu, who wrapped up the win by hitting a 46-yarder with 2:09 left.

The celebration really began when Jeremy Lomax and Atkins sandwiched Woodson for the final time, leading to chants of ``Let's go Vandy!'' from the crowd of more than 92,000 at Sanford Stadium.

One week after wearing black jerseys for the first time in an emotional win over Auburn, the Bulldogs returned to their usual home red and got off to another rousing start. Asher Allen returned the opening kickoff 82 yards to the Kentucky 18.

But Moreno fumbled inside the 10 and Jeremy Jarmon recovered for the Wildcats.

Kentucky built a 10-0 lead before the first quarter was done. Woodson tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Burton, then Seiber connected from 31 yards after Stafford threw the first of his two interceptions.

Thomas Brown also fumbled for the Bulldogs, but the defense held Kentucky to only one field goal over the final three quarters.

Georgia made it 10-7 just before halftime when Moreno powered over from the 1. The freshman bounced back from that early mistake for his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game, the first Bulldogs back to accomplish that feat since Herschel Walker in 1982 while winning the Heisman Trophy.

Georgia surged to its first lead on its opening possession of the second half. Brown scored again from the 1 to make it 14-10.

Stafford gave the Bulldogs some breathing room with his touchdown run, which caught the Wildcats off guard. After faking a handoff to Brown running to the left, Stafford took off the other way and slid into the end zone with 5:40 left in the third.

Georgia closes the regular season next Saturday at Georgia Tech - then hopes to make a return trip to Atlanta the following week.

Source:; Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media