LEXINGTON, Ky. – D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield heard it all week. So did Georgia’s offensive linemen. So did quarterback Jake Fromm.
They all heard all the football analysts – and Kentucky running back Benny Snell – talking up the Wildcats’ vaunted running game. Nobody was saying very much about Georgia’s rushing attack.
But the Bulldogs got last laugh on that front. Georgia piled up a season high 331 yards rushing on 50 attempts in Saturday’s 34-17 victory over No. 9 Kentucky. That was the most since the Bulldogs had 381 against UK last year.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats finished with 84 yards on 35 carries. Snell had 73 yards on 20 attempts – a 3.7-yard average.
Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield dives in the end zone for a touchdown and four of his 115-yard rushing yards on the day. (Curtis Compton/AJC)
“We wanted to kind of prove a point today,” said Holyfield, who had a career-high 115 yards on 18 carries. “There was a lot of talk about their run offense and not enough talk about us. So, we took that little chip on our shoulder today and showed why we run the ball.”
Kentucky’s Snell came into Saturday’s contest leading the SEC in rushing at 116.9 yards a game. The Wildcats also were third in the SEC in rush defense (108.5 yards per ggame) and No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense (13.0 points per game).
“People are still out there doubting us, so we just tried to silence the critics,” said Swift, who logged a career-best 156 yards on 16 carries and scored 2 touchdowns. “Everybody was saying we’re inconsistent. Benny Snell was going to do this and do that. They had the best defense in the country. We came out here and took care of business.”
What’s more, Georgia did it with an offensive line that, because of injuries, at some points in the game was playing three freshmen and two sophomores. Even coach Kirby Smart didn’t realize that until informed afterward. He just said, “Wow. Crazy.”
Senior center Lamont Gaillard went out with a hyperextended knee on Georgia’s first offensive possession and did not return. He was replaced by true freshman Trey Hill, who played the rest of the game.
So Hill was in the game for all three of Georgia’s rushing touchdowns, including Swift’s 83- and 20-yarders and Holyfield’s 4-yard scoring run.
“Trey is very talented. He’s been here since January,” Holyfield said. “So he came in and everybody was fine. We rotate them in practice all the time, so nobody was really worried when he came in. Trey’s a really good player.”
Said Fromm: “Extremely proud of him. What a big game in a big-time atmosphere. Didn’t faze him one bit. You know, even with the snaps and the fumbles, it didn’t faze him at all. I saw it in high school playing with him. I know what kind of player he is. As long as we got that snap going, he was going to take care of the rest. He’s a really good football player and good at moving people up front.”
But the highlight of the game, and the runs they’ll be showing on SportsCenter through Sunday morning, were Swift’s 83-yarder and the 20-yarder in which he juked both safety Mike Edwards and linebacker Josh Allen before bowling over two players to get into the end zone.
“People forget, I have probably the best seat in the house to watch our running backs do what they do,” Fromm said. “It’s amazing the kind of moves they have. Unbelievable.”
“I think we complement each other very well,” he said of Swift. “I feel like we’re two really, really good backs in the SEC, if not the two best. It’s good to see him get going. He was dealing with some stuff earlier, so I’m glad to see him get running.”
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