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Dogs fall at Kentucky

Wildcats top UGA 24-20

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jeremy Jarmon pushed around Georgia offensive linemen all afternoon, but he was no match for an elated Homecoming crowd and a large piece of yellow metal.
    Not since beating Alabama in 1997 had Kentucky fans forced their way onto the Commonwealth Stadium field and removed a goal post. It was a year earlier that Kentucky last accomplished what it did Saturday — a victory over defending Southeastern Conference champs Georgia.
    So, Jarmon knew the fans had cause, and he got out of the way.
    ‘‘I was watching from a safe distance,’’ Jarmon said. ‘‘It was a great feeling watching them take the goal post down. We deserve it as players. This city deserves it, and this university deserves it. They’ve waited a long time.’’
    Kentucky’s 24-20 comeback victory over the Bulldogs did more than just snap a nine-game losing streak against an SEC titan.
    It gave coach Rich Brooks a much-sought program-defining win, after his team came close but fell short earlier this season against Florida and South Carolina.
    ‘‘This was obviously a real good SEC football game and, for a change, we were the ones that answered the bell,’’ Brooks said.
    Kentucky (5-4, 3-3) is now one win away from bowl eligibility. The disappointing Bulldogs (6-4, 3-4) had already been knocked out of contention for the SEC title after winning it three of the last four seasons.
    Tony Dixon’s 3-yard run with just more than a minute left provided the final margin.
    Dixon, who was nursing a hamstring injury, saw little action until the fourth quarter, but he dominated the Wildcats’ final drive. Even on short runs, he carried much larger defenders for additional yardage.
    ‘‘I had fresh legs all week, and I tried to stay loose on the bike when I wasn’t on the field,’’ said Dixon, who carried the ball eight times for 47 yards in relief of starter Alfonso Smith.
    Georgia had a little more than a minute left to mount a game-winning drive, but freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford threw his third interception, right into the hands of Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley.
    ‘‘We knew if we put pressure on him, he would make mistakes,’’ Lindley said of Stafford.
    Stafford now has 12 interceptions this year, with four touchdown passes.
    ‘‘They were just bad throws,’’ Stafford said. ‘‘There is not much else I can say. I just have to come back and work harder next time.’’
    The Bulldogs took a 20-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a 3-yard scamper by Danny Ware. Kentucky could have settled for a game-tying field goal, but got the late touchdown instead.
    Kentucky won for only the 11th time in 60 meetings between the two teams since 1939. The Wildcats’ 24-17 victory in 1996 in Lexington was their last.
    ‘‘Was that last year that we won the SEC championship?’’ said Georgia coach Mark Richt. ‘‘It seems so long ago. It’s crazy, isn’t it?’’
    After Lones Seiber kicked a 48-yard field goal to put the Wildcats ahead 3-0, Georgia took a 14-3 lead by scoring on its longest and shortest drives of the year only minutes apart.
    Stafford culminated a 92-yard drive by finding Mario Raley in the corner of the end zone on a nine-yard slant.
    Then, after a Tra Battle interception that he nearly returned for a score, Kentucky went one yard on three plays. Fullback Brannan Southerland plunged past the goal line.
    Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson was more successful on his next redzone chance, throwing a strike to a closely covered Keenan Burton in the back of the end zone to make the score 14-10.
    ‘‘One great thing about this program is that everyone has heart,’’ Woodson said. ‘‘No one gives up. We kept chipping away, we kept fighting, and we were able to pull it out.’’
    Woodson completed 23 of 32 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns — both to Burton. Woodson now has 20 scoring passes on the year.
    Interceptions were the story of the first half as each team picked off two passes, including the final three drives of the half.
    Stafford, forced to start inside the Georgia one because of a well-placed Kentucky punt, threw his first pass right into the arms of Kentucky defender Johnny Williams.
    Kentucky was only inches away from a lead then, but Woodson couldn’t capitalize. He threw another interception to Tony Taylor — the fifth of the year for Taylor, who brought it back 52 yards, putting the Bulldogs in prime position to add points before halftime.
    Stafford led Georgia to the Kentucky two, but this time it was Roger Williams who picked him off, keeping the Bulldogs’ lead at four.
    Kentucky, faced with the opportunity to pull within one in the third quarter, tried a fake field goal instead, but Seiber fumbled the ball on the trick run, giving it back to the Bulldogs.
    The game was stopped for several minutes in the fourth quarter because of an injury to Raley. He had caught a pass but fumbled it after a hit by Kentucky’s Myron Pryor.
    Richt said Raley was taken to the hospital and had movement in his arms and legs.
    ‘‘I’m just thankful we have people who know what they’re doing to keep him safe,’’ Richt said.

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