Georgia Football: Dominant Win vs UK Seals SEC East Crown

D'Andre Swift (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
D'Andre Swift (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Georgia Football program has reached the SEC title for the second consecutive season under Kirby Smart with a dominant 34-17 victory over Kentucky.

Georgia Football prides themselves on running the football and stopping the run. Both aspects were fully on display for the sixth ranked Bulldogs against ninth ranked Kentucky, in their winner take all, SEC East clash.

UGA running backs D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield both eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the first time this season, in the Bulldogs  decisive 17 point win over the Wildcats.

D’Andre Swift was a blur, rushing for a career high 156 yards on 15 carries. That’s an amazing 9.8 yards per carry, and shows he has fully recovered from an early season groin injury. Swift scored two touchdowns on the evening, including a game long 83 yard run. He also caught three passes for 18 yards.

Elijah Holyfield was a hammer, grinding out a strong 115 yards on 18 carries, a robust 6.4 yards per carry himself. He visited the end zone once as well. The two-headed monster spearheaded a rushing attack, that racked up a season high 331 yards on 51 carries.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Georgia Bulldogs defense limited SEC leading rusher Benny Snell Jr., and backed that up with their best pass rushing performance of the season.

The Dawgs held Benny Snell, the eighth leading rusher in the country, to only 73 yards on 20 carries. That’s a below average, 3.7 yards per carry. Snell scored just one touchdown and his best run was only 11 yards. On top of that, the UGA run defense held Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson to only 12 yards rushing on 12 attempts.

The Georgia Bulldogs run defense made the Kentucky Wildcats one-dimensional and forced them into a lot of third and long situations. The result was a season high four sacks for the Dawgs pass rush.

Edge defender Brenton Cox, linebackers Monty Rice and Channing Tindall, as well as defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter all racked up sacks for the Dawgs’ defense.

Cornerback Tyson Campbell recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Juwon Taylor and defensive end Tyler Clark recovered a fumble forced by lineman Jonathan Ledbetter, to produce the two UGA takeaways.

Jonathan Ledbetter was a force all game long making six tackles, two for a loss and one sack. Linebacker Monty Rice led the Dawgs with eight tackles, one tackle for a loss and one sack. A wonderful performance by the Georgia defense.

Quarterback Jake Fromm did very good job managing the game. He was 14/20 for 113 yards and a touchdown. The passing game wasn’t asked to do any heavy lifting, but Fromm completed timely third down throws when needed.

Jake found tight end Isaac Nauta on a four yard touchdown to open the scoring for Georgia. That was his only touchdown pass of the game. The drive was set up by a 65 yard Mecole Hardman punt return. The only miscues the Georgia offense had, were two fumbled exchanges that led to Dawg turnovers.

True freshman quarterback Justin Fields saw some playing time in the win over Kentucky, after not playing at all against Florida in Jacksonville. He carried the ball six times for 26 yards. He appeared to be looking to throw down field on a couple of plays, but elected to pull both down and run.

The Georgia Bulldogs will make their second consecutive appearance in the SEC Championship game, to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Dawgs are attempting to become just the fourth SEC team to win back-to-back conference titles.

UGA has now won 13 straight games against SEC East foes under Head Coach Kirby Smart.

The major concern coming out of this game is the injury status of several starters who were banged up in the game.

Offensive line was the hardest hit. Senior Center Lamont Gaillard left the game an didn’t return. After Trey Hill replaced him, the Dawgs had snap issues.

Guard Cade Mays was injured late in the game against Kentucky. Fortunately for the Dawgs, season opening starter Ben Cleveland is expected to be ready to play between the hedges against rival Auburn next week.

Wide receiver and punt returner Mecole Hardman and top pass rusher D’Andre Walker, also left the game due to injury. Walker did return to the game. The status of all of the wounded players for next week, is certainly something worth monitoring.

The Bulldogs can’t let their guard down, as there are still three remaining games that must be won before the title game, if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

UGA might have found their 2017 type formula in the win today. If the Dawgs can consistently continue to run the ball and stop the run the way they did today, a second consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff, is certainly within the realm of possibility.

That consistency must start next week against the Auburn Tigers in the deep south’s oldest rivalry.

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