ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – D’Andre Swift’s 39-yard touchdown run in the third quarter snapped a scoreless tie, and No. 10 Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Kentucky 21-0 on Saturday night.
Swift, who ran for 179 yards, added a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Brian Herrien ran for 60 yards, including an 8-yard scoring run.
Georgia (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) recovered from last week’s loss to South Carolina by finally taking advantage of its SEC-leading ground game in the second half.
Each offense was affected by Nestor, the former tropical storm which dumped rain on Athens throughout the day. The wet conditions contributed to the scoreless first half.
Kentucky (3-4, 1-4) got 99 yards rushing from Lynn Bowden in his second start at quarterback, but the Wildcats’ attack was one-dimensional. Bowden, Kentucky’s third starting quarterback of the season, didn’t complete a pass on his first nine attempts. He completed only 2 of 15 passes for 17 yards.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm did not have a turnover one week after throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. He completed 9 of 12 passes for only 35 yards.
On the soggy Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium, Kentucky stayed right with Georgia until midway through the third quarter.
The Bulldogs took advantage of two mistakes by the Wildcats to grab control.
A shanked punt by Max Duffy went out of bounds at the Kentucky 39 early in the second half after carrying only 15 yards.
The poor punt allowed Georgia to start a possession outside of its 20 for the first time in the game. Swift needed only one play to take advantage of the excellent field position.
Running behind right tackle Isaiah Wilson and right guard Cade Mays, Swift broke a tackle by safety Yusuf Corker on the 39-yard scoring run.
Bowden’s fumble, caused by J.R. Reed, on the Wildcats’ next possession was recovered by Georgia’s Richard LeCounte at the Kentucky 31. Herrien’s scoring run on his fourth straight carry pushed the Georgia lead to 14-0.
Georgia held Kentucky to 52 yards in the first half.
The Bulldogs fought poor field position throughout the half, starting three drives inside their 15.
Fromm was stopped on a fourth-and-1 sneak at midfield midway through the second quarter.
Kentucky: The Wildcats clearly have a unique talent in Bowden, who was the team’s leading receiver before last week’s move to quarterback. Still, more work is needed to add balance to the offense. Bowden led the Wildcats to a 24-20 win over Arkansas last week in his debut at quarterback, but now opposing teams will be better prepared for his frequent runs.
Georgia: The Bulldogs showed good poise in recovering from the ugly first half and capitalizing on opportunities in the third quarter. Still, the offense failed to produce like a unit capable of contending for a championship. The receivers again struggled to beat press coverage and the line failed to push back Kentucky’s defensive front on a fourth-down sneak. Fans booed some conservative play calls, perhaps influenced by the ugly weather, but the patient approach paid off. The Bulldogs, who lost four turnovers in last week’s loss, did not lose the ball against the Wildcats.
Georgia’s second-half recovery should save it from another drop in the Top 25.
Kentucky: The Wildcats return home to play No. 22 Missouri next Saturday night. Kentucky scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to beat Missouri 15-14 last season.
Georgia: Following an off week, Georgia will look for its third straight win over No. 9 Florida on Nov. 2 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won last year’s matchup of top-10 teams, 36-17.