Kendall Milton ripped off a 35-yard run in the second quarter of Georgia’s 30-13 win over Kentucky. It kick-started Georgia’s second scoring drive and doubled as the longest run of the season for the Bulldogs.
But the explosive run was nowhere near as impactful as a play he made in the first quarter. A play that Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said was potentially the play of the game.
With the score tied 0-0, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett dropped back to pass. As he released the ball, he was hit by Kentucky defender Josh Paschal. The ball squirted out of Bennett’s hands and rolled just in front of linebacker Jacquez Jones. Bennett’s arm appeared to be moving forward, thus looking like an incomplete pass. Most of the players on the field appeared to agree as the football was just rolling on the ground.
So not only did Milton save a potential turnover on the edge of the red zone, he actually got Georgia some positive yards.
“Good lord, that was huge. I thought it was a pass,” Bennett said. “Then I turn around and there’s a bean bag on the ground. Thank goodness Kendall was jumping on the ball.”
The heads-up play took on even greater importance on the next play, as Bennett found running back James Cook for a 19-yard touchdown. It gave the Bulldogs their first points of the day and put them well on their way to win.
But had Kentucky scooped up the loose ball, maybe things go differently. At times, Kentucky found success on Saturday and became the first team all year to score two touchdowns against Georgia.
Milton’s fumble recovery very clearly prevented a momentum shift for the visiting Wildcats.
“I just remember screaming to Kendall,” center Sedrick Van Pran said. “Just having the awareness of, ‘Hey man this could possibly be a fumble because the whistle hasn’t been blown yet.’ I think it was huge.”
On Georgia’s next drive, Milton ripped off his 35-yard run. The Georgia sophomore actually came inches away from turning it into a much longer run, as a Kentucky defender did just enough to get him to step out of bounds.
That run by Milton led Georgia to its second touchdown drive of the day, as the Bulldogs ripped off 88 yards on four consecutive running plays with four different ball carriers.
Milton finished the game with 4 carries for 33 yards. But the box score doesn’t capture just how impactful Milton was, especially in the early stages of a game between the No. 1 and No. 11 teams in the country.
“I thought it was an incompletion, I thought why is everyone chasing after it? We talk about it all the time, if you don’t know, if they don’t know they’re gonna let you play, so get on it, jump on it,” Smart said. “And he did a great job of that. He was really good today, did a good job, he always does.”
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation