Wildcat offensive struggles continue in loss to #5 Georgia, 14-3

Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed for 108 yards and the Kentucky defense held No. 5 Georgia in check but the Bulldogs did just enough to beat the Cats 14-3 on Saturday at Kroger Field.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed for 108 yards and the Kentucky defense held No. 5 Georgia in check but the Bulldogs did just enough to beat the Cats 14-3 on Saturday at Kroger Field.

For Rodriguez, it was his second 100-yard rushing game this season and the fourth of his career. His 20 carries was the most he’s ever had in a game as a Wildcat.

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Other than Rodriguez’s effort, the Wildcats struggled on offense. Kentucky managed just 229 yards of total offense, with 138 on the ground and 91 through the air.

Quarterback Joey Gatewood, making his first career start for Kentucky, was 15 of 25 through the air for 91 yards. Josh Ali was Gatewood’s top target, catching five passes for 38 yards.

Kentucky (2-4, 2-4 SEC) got another big defensive effort from Jamin Davis, who led the Cats with 13 tackles in the game. Davis also blocked a field goal, forced a fumble and had a pass breakup for Kentucky.

The Cats took the opening kickoff and were able to get one first down before being forced to punt. Georgia took possession on its own 14 yard line and from there, the Bulldogs marched down the field, keeping the ball on the ground for the entire drive. Ultimately, Georgia would score on a two-yard touchdown rush by quarterback Stetson Bennett, ending a 12-play scoring drive. Jack Podlesny added the PAT and Georgia took a 7-0 lead with 6:07 to play in the first quarter.

On its second drive, Kentucky again got one first down before being forced to punt. Georgia took over at its own eight yard line with 2:06 left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would lead 7-0 at the end of the first period.

Early in the second quarter, Georgia punted and Kentucky took over at its own seven yard line. The Cats held onto the ball for 10:28, using 19 plays to cover 77 yards and driving into the Georgia red zone. However, the drive stalled the UK settled for a 34-yard field goal from Matt Ruffolo, cutting the UGA lead to 7-3 with 2:44 left in the half.

Georgia (4-1, 4-1) would answer with a 46-yard pass from Bennett to James Cook to start its next drive. After just two plays, the Bulldogs were in the red zone. However, Phil Hoskins made an incredible play, tipping a Bennett pass into the air, then intercepting it, foiling the Georgia drive and giving the Cats the ball at their own 25 with 1:19 to play in the half.

Kentucky would punt and Georgia would take possession with 18 seconds left. The Bulldogs drove across midfield, but their field goal attempt as the half expire was blocked by Davis. Georgia held a 7-3 lead at the break.

Georgia took the second half kickoff and marched into Kentucky territory. But the Cats defense held and forced a fourth-and-one from the UK 22. The Bulldogs went for it, and it paid off as Zamir White ran up the middle for a touchdown. Podlesny added the PAT and Georgia led 14-3 with 11:38 left in the third quarter.

Kentucky took the next possession and drove into Georgia territory. However, on the seventh play of the drive, Gatewood fumbled at the UGA 34 and the Bulldogs recovered, taking over with 7:50 left in the third quarter.

Georgia drove into UK territory but was again foiled by the UK defense. This time, it was Kelvin Joseph picking off a Bennett pass, giving the Cats the ball at their own 18 and keeping Georgia from scoring one more time. The Bulldogs would lead 14-3 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, neither team scored and only Georgia really threatened to do so as the defenses took over.

Kentucky has next Saturday off before hosting Vanderbilt on Nov. 14 at Kroger Field. The time and television network for that game have not yet been announced.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.