The Dawgs punched their ticket to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta on December 3rd with a 19–10 win over Kentucky today.
Former walk-on tailback Brandon Harton rushed for 101 yards and Blair Walsh kicked four field goals while the Dawg defense shut down the Wildcats in the second half.
Coach Mark Richt
“I left the South Carolina game encouraged. I wasn’t encouraged that we lost, but I was encouraged that as we moved forward that we could win. I knew we had good leaders, good players and good coaches. We had to protect the ball and get after it. It’s hard to win nine in a row, especially when you need every single one to get back to the Dome. I’m just so proud of them right now.”
“Today was definitely a team victory. Everybody had to do their part. I thought the special teams played extremely well. The offense made enough plays and the defense did their thing.”
“Brandon Harton had to come through for us. Even though the ball came out a few times, he had over 100 yards. And Ken Malcome did a few things. Overall, the tailbacks protected pretty good. As the game went on, they made some plays.”
“Our defense stoned them again. Twenty-three yards net, that’s pretty fantastic. They didn’t throw that well either. Our defense played lights out I thought.”
“I am so proud of the guys for winning the SEC East. Guys could have quit, pointed fingers and found a way to fall apart. But they didn’t do that. Last season was pretty horrible by record, but the players never gave up on the coaches and the coaches never gave up on the players. We maintained our unity. That’s what carried us through the offseason and carried us through the early part of this year.”
“Kentucky played hard. We missed some opportunities, but we kept fighting. I’m glad there was not a lot of drama at the end.”
“You take it one game at a time, one play at a time, one practice at a time. It’s hard to win nine in a row — period. I’m just thankful that we did.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray
On the win and clinching the SEC East…
“It’s a victory. We didn’t play great, but it’s great to get back to Atlanta. We’re excited. We have our game at Georgia Tech first, but we’re definitely blessed to be back in the SEC Championship game this year. It’s a great feeling.”
On today’s game…
“We just weren’t connecting and you’re going to have those games. We just fought through it. The defense played great and we’re just happy to get out of it with a win.”
Linebacker Jarvis Jones
“We knew they would come in with some confidence and that they were going to give it their all. Last time they were here they beat us, so we knew they were coming to play. We just came to battle and stepped up. “
“After the beginning of the season we were a little down, but you just have to keep fighting and that’s what we did. Now we’re headed back to Atlanta and it’s a really good feeling.”
Tailback Brandon Harton
On rushing over 100 yards in the SEC East clinching victory…
“To come in and have this kind of game in this kind of game makes me feel so good. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. I just wanted to go out have fun, do what I was supposed to do, hit my assignments, but have fun.”
Free Safety Bacarri Rambo
“It’s feels so good. The last time Georgia made it to the SEC championship I was in ninth grade, so it’s a great feeling. We put in a ton of work in the off-season and pre-season and it’s all paying off.”
Cornerback Brandon Boykin
“I’m feeling great. This is what I came back to do. It’s like a fantasy. As a senior, to win on senior day and to win the SEC East is a great feeling.”
KENTUCKY POST-GAME QUOTES
Kentucky Head Coach Joker Phillips
On the way his team played today…
“I am proud of this team and how they fought. A lot of people knew how much this week meant for Georgia and no one talked about what we were playing for. We’re playing for pride, our university and an extra win. The game that this team played proved they played for each other as well. I am proud of them.”
On the Kentucky defense…
“I said at half time that our defense had a lot of wins today. They forced some field goals instead of touchdowns that kept us in the game. It was good to see some young guys come up and make some plays. We had some guys who haven’t practiced lately and really came through with some good plays for us today. It was probably the best game this defense has played this year. We didn’t get pushed around and we have seen Georgia push some really good teams around. I don’t think that they pushed us around.”
On the Kentucky offense…
“We made some plays in the first half. We proved that we could move the ball on any defense that we face. We couldn’t get the run game started in the second half because of some of the schemes Georgia ran but I am proud of the way these guys fought for each other out there today. No one can see we didn’t fight.”
On Georgia’s defense…
“It’s hard to play against a defense that is as good as Georgia. This is one of the best defenses in the conference. We’ve seen Georgia hold some good teams to just a few points. It’s a tough to play against a team with great personnel, great schemes and athletic players.”
On Danny Trevathan…
“Danny is a pro and plays like a pro. Nothing he does surprises me anymore. He knows where he is supposed to be and where everyone else is supposed to be. That makes him play faster. I don’t think I have been around a better tackler. He plays with emotion and excitement every week and he means a lot to this program.”
With today’s 19-10 victory over UK, the Dawgs (9-2, 7-1 SEC) captured the SEC Eastern Division title outright, the sixth for the program since the league split into divisions in 1992. Georgia will be heading to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game on Dec. 3 for the first time since winning it in 2005 over LSU. The Dawgs are 2-1 in SEC Championship Games.
Georgia won its ninth consecutive game, the longest winning streak in a season since the 1982 team under Vince Dooley went a perfect 11-0 during the regular season.
Under Richt, Georgia won 11 straight games over a span of two seasons, winning the final seven in 2007 and the first four contests in 2008.
Georgia’s defense shutdown the Wildcats in the second half as they managed just 13 yards on 22 plays and no points. Overall, UK gained 165 yards on 57 plays and 65 of those yards came on their first drive of the contest. The Dawgs had five sacks and won their seventh straight SEC game.
Redshirt sophomore OLB and Butkus Award semifinalist Jarvis Jones recorded 2.5 sacks versus the Wildcats to give him 12.5 in a season. This ties David Pollack (2004) for the No. 3 spot in the school record books for a season and leads the SEC this year. Jones was third in the nation coming into the game with 10 sacks. Pollack owns the school record with 14 in 2002. Sophomore Alec Ogletree led the Dawgs with eight tackles while Shawn Williams, Bacarri Rambo and Jarvis Jones had seven apiece.
Senior Blair Walsh booted three 39-yard field goals and a 25 yarder to pace the Dawg scoring. This is the second time Walsh has had four in a game after going 4-for-6 at Vanderbilt. His first FG was set up after Connor Norman recovered an onside kick on the Wildcat 44-yard line. Walsh’s second FG came following Smith’s INT return. The third FG came after Brandon Boykin returned a punt 22 yards to the Kentucky 23-yard line. Brandon Bogotay recovered a fumble on the Wildcat 30-yard line to set up Walsh’s fourth FG. He added a PAT and with those 13 points, Walsh is now second in SEC history with 394 points (72 FGs, 177 PATs). Former Dawg Billy Bennett owns the UGA and SEC records with 409 points from 2000-03.
Junior CB Branden Smith snagged his second interception of 2011 and returned it 53
yards to the Kentucky 27-yard line in the second quarter. He now has four in his career. The Dawgs have 15 picks this season. Smith also had a 21-yard kickoff return. Senior CB Brandon Boykin also had an INT in the first half.
Redshirt sophomore QB Aaron Murray improved on his single season touchdown pass record by adding this 28th TD pass in the third quarter. Murray connected with Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard score at the 14:55 mark in the third period. Murray now has 28 in 2011 and 52 in his career. The Tampa, Florida, native finished 16-of-29 for 162 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Smith’s interception in the opening period led to the second Blair Walsh field goal. True freshman Quintavius Harrow forced a fumble on a kickoff late in the second quarter and PK Brandon Bogotay recovered it. Walsh connected on another field goal following the Bogotay recovery. Boykin’s interception came with :01 left in the
second quarter. OLB Jarvis Jones forced a fumble by hitting Kentucky’s quarterback late in the third quarter and ILB Christian Robinson jumped on the loose ball. QB Aaron Murray connected with Marlon Brown for a 7-yard score on the ensuing possession. Georgia has forced 27 turnovers and converted them into 96 points.
TB Ken Malcome fumbled at the 10:44 mark in the second quarter on the Dawg 27-yard line. Kentucky then scored a touchdown just more than two minutes later. Murray threw an interception in the Dawgs’ opening drive of the first half. The Wildcats had to punt on the next possession. TB Brandon Harton fumbled in the third quarter after gaining 44 yards earlier in the drive. Kentucky also had to punt on this possession. Opponents have scored 42 points off 17 Dawg miscues.
Redshirt sophomore TE Arthur Lynch and sophomore FB Alexander Ogletree both started for the first time in their careers.
Injury Report: TB Isaiah Crowell injured his left ankle in the first half and did not return. With Crowell out, sophomore Brandon Harton had a career-high 101 yards on 23 carries.
Georgia’s captains on Saturday were all members of the 2011 senior class. C Ben Jones, LT Cordy Glenn, DE DeAngelo Tyson and CB/KOR Brandon Boykin represented their teammates at midfield.
The Dawgs travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech on Saturday, November 26th. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:01 p.m. and ABC or ESPN will televise the game.