Wildcats Drop Offensive Battle To No. 17 Georgia, 43-29
Oct 20, 2001
By PAUL NEWBERRY
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - With about two minutes to go, the public address announcer at Sanford Stadium announced that Georgia freshman Fred Gibson had broken a 59-year-old school record.
"Freddie! Freddie! Freddie!" the crowd chanted.
"I wish they would call me Fred," Gibson moaned afterward. "I don't like Freddie."
That was about his only complaint Saturday. The freshman caught nine passes for a school-record 201 yards, hooking up with David Greene on two long scoring plays as No. 17 Georgia held on for a wild 43-29 victory over Kentucky.
"Fred has come a long way," said Verron Haynes, who bowed toward his teammate when the record was announced. "I'm just glad he's on our side. It's scary where he's going to be after a full year in this program."
This game was scary for Georgia, which fell behind 22-7 in the first half. Each team piled up 30 first downs and they combined for 1,084 yards - nearly identical to the numbers put up last season in Georgia's 34-30 victory at Lexington.
Jared Lorenzen, in his first start for Kentucky since a season-opening loss, threw for three touchdowns and ran for a score in a brilliant individual effort.
But the Wildcats couldn't overcome two fourth-quarter turnovers - including a fumble at the Georgia 1 - and another dismal performance by their defense. Kentucky has allowed 256 points this season, an average of 36.6 per game.
Greene, a redshirt freshman, had his third straight 300-yard game. The Georgia quarterback was 22-of-36 for a career-high 364 yards, throwing three touchdown passes and running for another score.
Gibson had touchdown catches of 68 and 56 yards.
"Well, that was wild," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I shouldn't have thought it would be any different. I kept telling these guys to be ready for a war. If not, they were going to faint. The good news is: We didn't faint."
Georgia (5-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference), which hasn't won a league championship since 1982, set up a showdown with No. 7 Florida next weekend in Jacksonville.
Kentucky (1-6, 0-5) lost its fifth in a row even though Lorenzen completed 32 of 54 passes for 377 yards. The 275-pound left-hander also was his team's leading rusher, carrying eight times for 61 yards, continually breaking tackles and standing up to a fierce rush.
"You can't knock him down with one guy," Richt marveled. "You can't get your arms around him, he's so big."
The game was tied at 29 when Lorenzen made his most glaring mistake. On the first play of the fourth quarter, he was picked off by defensive end Robert Geathers, who surprised the Wildcats by dropping into coverage.
Georgia ran for a short gain to its own 44, then Greene launched a pass to Gibson. The freshman somehow caught the ball between defenders Jeremy Bowie and Quentus Cumby, who tumbled to the turf while he coasted to the end zone for a 36-29 lead.
The Bulldogs finally put Kentucky away on their next possession. Greene completed a 46-yard screen pass to Haynes, ran for 14 yards himself and connected with Haynes again on a 5-yard TD pass with 10:12 remaining.
Lorenzen, who was demoted to the No. 2 role behind Shane Boyd for the last five games, didn't match his numbers against Georgia from a year ago, when he passed for 528 yards.
"We did a great job today, but we couldn't finish up at the end," Lorenzen said. "We need to work on finishing strong."
Gibson, supplanting Terrence Edwards as Georgia's most dangerous pass catcher, broke the school record for receiving yards, held by Lamar Davis since a 198-yard performance against Cincinnati in 1942.
"Fred is going be as good as he wants to be," Richt said. "He can be as good as anybody in the nation."
Georgia didn't have leading rusher Musa Smith, who sat out with a groin injury. But Haynes filled in just fine, running 14 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns. He also had three receptions for 73 yards, including his third score.
The Bulldogs were leading 7-3 until Lorenzen stunned them with three touchdown passes in a 4-minute span of the second quarter.
Derek Smith hauled in a 10-yard scoring pass with 11:04 remaining in the half, capping an eight-play, 72-yard drive that gave the Wildcats their first lead.
Georgia's offense went three-and-out, and Lorenzen struck again just three plays later. The ball wobbled out of his left hand as he took a big hit from Bruce Adrine, but Aaron Boone came back to get the pass and turned it into a 29-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs blocked the extra point, but Greene was intercepted by Derrick Tatum at the Kentucky 49. Again, Lorenzen needed only three plays to reach the end zone. Again, he went to Boone, who broke loose along the sideline to grab a 26-yard TD pass.
A botched snap led to another missed extra point and Kentucky's lead remained 22-7.
The Bulldogs struck back with a critical touchdown before halftime. Gibson beat Tatum one-on-one and hauled in the 68-yard touchdown.
On Georgia's final possession of the half, Gibson eluded Tatum for a 41-yard reception. But Billy Bennett missed a 37-yard field goal as time ran out.