Georgia defense, run game come up big in 16-6 win at Kentucky

Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (10) celebrates a defensive stop on a fourth and one during the first quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats of an NCAA football game at Kroger Field, Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Lexington, Kentucky. Jason Getz /

It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have to be.

Georgia grounded out a 16-6 win over Kentucky at Kroger Field in Lexington amid a 25-degree wind chill, the program’s 13th-straight win over the Wildcats.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (11-0, 8-0 SEC) completed their second consecutive undefeated league slate with the win.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett struggled to throw in the 13 mph wind, 13-of-19 for a season-low 116 yards with an interception.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, had his issues, too.

Levis, playing on an injured foot, was 20-of-31 for 206 yards and a very costly interception with the game in the balance in the first half.

The Wildcats (6-5, 3-5) drove into UGA territory on their first two possessions of the game.

Tailback Chris Rodriguez was stopped on a fourth-and-1 at the Bulldogs’ 31 on the opening possession.

The Georgia defense came up big on the second possession, too, when Kelee Ringo picked off Levis at the UGA 2-yard line to protect a 3-0 lead.

Bulldogs kicker Jack Podlesny booted two more field goals before halftime, and then Georgia added to the lead on the second possession of the second half.

Kenny McIntosh’s 9-yard TD run gave the Bulldogs a 16-0 lead before Kentucky could register points on the scoreboard.

McIntosh ran for a career-high 143 yards on 19 carries and caught 2 passes for 19 yards.

The Wildcats’ defense turned the momentum around when Coach Kirby Smart elected to go for the knockout punch, leaving his offense on the field for a fourth-and-1 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Kentucky stopped Kendall Milton, and the offense turned that momentum into the program’s first 99-yard TD drive since 2015 to cut the lead to 16-6.

Levis threw incomplete on the 2-point conversion attempt, however, and it remained a two-possession game.

Kentucky drove to the Georgia 20 with 4:17 left, but a poor hold contributed to Matt Ruffolo missing a 38-yard field goal attempt.

Georgia will finish the regular season at noon next Saturday against Georgia Tech in Sanford Stadium before meeting LSU at 4 p.m. on Dec. 3 in the SEC Championship Game.

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