Dawgs, Ealey Run Past Cats

LEXINGTON – As Washaun Ealey limped to the sidelines on Saturday night, he was not alone.

Key player: Washaun Ealey

The Georgia sophomore had a record-breaking performance because he was strong at the line, finding the holes and then burrowing ahead for a few yards at a time. His longest run, of 41 yards, came late in the game. But he was a workhorse all night, and didn't fumble, which for him was huge, after his problems earlier this season.

Key moment:

Brandon Boykin's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It gave Georgia a 14-3 lead, answering Kentucky's first score, as the Bulldogs never trailed in the game. Boykin had seemed on the verge of breaking one this season, and he finally did so in the Bulldogs' eighth game.

Key decision

Kentucky was without star tailback Derrick Locke, so Georgia's defensive coaches opted to attack the pocket with their edge rushers. The result were a slew of fumbles, and a lot more pressure than Kentucky QB Mike Hartline was used to. Kentucky had yielded an SEC-low six sacks this season, but he went down twice in the first half.

Quote of the game

"Four turnovers in the half. That's hard to overcome for any defense. That will kill you. Our field position was tremendous. It's hard to keep people out of the end zone when they have such a short field. It's hard to start fast defensively when you have turnovers like that. We didn't really drive the field until the second half. We only had 90 yards of offense in the second half."

- Richt

By the numbers

133

- That's how many yards Georgia was outgained by Kentucky (423-290). But the four turnovers, and Boykin's kick return, easily made up for that.

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At every step he was met by another teammate or coach, there to slap him on the helmet, or any other body part.

At that moment, the tailback symbolized where the Georgia football team's season had been, and where it may be going.

Four weeks ago the Georgia football team was assumed finished by many, and Washaun Ealey was in tailback purgatory. After Saturday's 44-31 win at Kentucky, the Bulldogs were officially back in the hunt, and Ealey was in the Bulldogs record books.

Ealey set a program record for rushing touchdowns in a game, breaking a record held for 13 years by Robert Edwards. Ealey also tied Edwards' record for most touchdowns (five) in a game.

"I feel like I'm doing stuff that I should've been doing all season," said Ealey, who said a couple late-game injuries were nothing serious. "Right now we're on a roll and hopefully we can stay that way."

It wasn't the prettiest record-breaking performance: When Ealey scored his fifth touchdown, he still didn't have 100 yards on the night. A few late runs pushed his total to 157.

But given the previous struggles of Ealey and the Bulldogs, they will take it. The win pushed their record to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the SEC, and they remained a half-game out of first place in their division entering next week's game against Florida.

Ealey, the team's leading rusher last season, was suspended for the opener this season after an arrest. He only got to start the past two games because of fellow tailback Caleb King's arrest, but he took advantage.

"Washaun man, he's not the type of guy to get down on himself," Georgia receiver A.J. Green said. "I don't care what he does, he's gonna keep talking trash. He can fumble five times, he'll still go ‘I'm the best, I'm the best.' "

It was also the first time Georgia ever scored 40-plus points against three straight SEC foes.

But offense took a backseat in this one

Georgia was the beneficiary of three first-half fumbles by Kentucky. In the first half, Georgia's average starting position was the Kentucky 15.

"I was joking around after we had the kickoff return: We've had four plays and we have 14 plays on the board, that's pretty good right there," quarterback Aaron Murray said.

It started on the first drive, when Georgia recovered a fumble at the Kentucky 24.

Justin Houston got to Hartline first, and he was credited with the sack. But DeAngelo Tyson also applied a hit and forced the ball loose.

Three plays later, Ealey converted a third-and-short by barreling for 13 yards, setting up his own 3-yard touchdown run.

After a Kentucky field goal, Brandon Boykin struck. His 100-yard kick return touchdown was the third of his career.

"When we got in the huddle I told everybody: You just give me two seconds, you just hold your blocks for two seconds I promise you I'm gonna get through it," Boykin said. "And everybody made a commitment to do that, and it was pretty after that."

Then it was time for another Kentucky fumble.

Kentucky's La'Rod King caught a pass and lumbered into Georgia territory. But before he could go down, Bacarri Rambo stripped the ball loose. Sanders Commings picked it up and returned it to Kentucky's 34.

Ealey followed with a touchdown.

Later, the field got even shorter: Kentucky muffed a pitchout, and Houston pounced on the loose ball at the 5. Ealey punched it in again, and it was 28-3.

"To be a great defense you've gotta get turnovers," Houston said. "We want to be a great defense and we're starting to be a great defense."

Kentucky (4-4) still made things dicey in the second half, rallying within 34-17 late in the third quarter. But an onside kick try was knocked out of bounds, and the result was a quick drive and Ealey's final touchdown of the game.

Kentucky kept plugging away, and did recover an onside kick with 1:20 left. But four plays later an incompletion officially ended any hopes.

Sanders Commings, who had a fumble recovery and a fumble, said the feeling in the locker room was one of "relief." Green brought up the team's "shaky start" and his own suspension.

"I feel like this is a different mood right now," Green said. "With Aaron coming into his own, the offensive line and our defense coming into our own, I feel like we're really gonna turn this around. This is going to be a special season."


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