Originally created 10/25/98

Bulldogs survive Couch attack

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Ronnie Bradley didn't have the stomach to watch. Moments earlier, he had the opportunity to seal the game, but the ball slipped from his hands as he lunged for a first down.

Then again, many of his teammates couldn't watch either. Nearly 60 frenetic minutes suddenly boiled to a Kentucky kicker lining up for a career-best 49-yard field goal.

"I didn't want to watch it," offensive tackle Matt Stinchcomb said. "I thought our chance were pretty good, but I still couldn't watch it unfold."

As the final lay unfurled, Stinchcomb didn't need to. The crowd provided all the poignant clues for him. When holder Matt Mumme bobbled the snap, scrambled and lofted an ill-fated pass, blue-and-white splashed Commonwealth Stadium fell deathly silent, except for its northeast corner, which was covered in red and erupted for the Bulldogs' 28-26 victory.

"I feel bad for the kid," Georgia coach Jim Donnan said. "But I fell good for the Dogs.

"If I didn't have a heart attack then, I'm not going to have one any time soon."

What kept Donnan's heart pumping, and seemed to keep the entire Bulldog ship afloat, once again as the play of Quincy Carter, who barely resembled the freshman he is thought to be.

Poised and confident, the one-man gang rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown and passed for 147 and two scores. He had a hand in all but 71 yards of Georgia's offensive production.

"The two games he's had on the road are pretty emblematic of what he can do, as far as dominating a game," Donnan said. "He can run, pass and make a lot of good decisions."

Those decisions have the Bulldogs at 6-1, 4-1 in the SEC, and saddled with a critical date with Florida next week in Jacksonville.

Carter's Kentucky counterpart, Tim Couch, finished with another typical day -- 326 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. And the Wildcats rolled up 530 yards of offense, nearly 200 more than Georgia.

"They get a lot of yards," said safety Kirby Smart, who had a key fourth-quarter interception. "But they haven't beaten us. That's the goal."

The Bulldogs held Kentucky without points on its final three possessions. But it was an empty possession late in the first quarter that gave the Bulldogs life.

Kentucky struck quickly, scoring on its first two possessions as Couch hit Craig Yeast with a 45-yard touchdown pass and Seth Hanson converted a 25-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.

When they held Georgia on the following series, the Wildcats had an opportunity to put some early pressure on the Bulldogs.

Couch and Co. marched 68 yards in five plays and faced a third down on the Kentucky 1-yard line. Couch tried a sneak, but failed, then attempted a naked bootleg that Orantes Grant smothered him for a 4-yard loss.

"We probably should have kicked a field goal," Kentucky coach Hal Mumme said. "I'm just arrogant and I thought we could score. It's my fault."

Suddenly the Bulldogs gained a some life. They drove 96 yards in seven plays, and Carter capped the drive with a 49-yard TD scamper, breaking three tackles and running through free safety Jeff Zurcher.

It marked the beginning of a run where Georgia scored on four straight possessions to claim a 28-20 lead midway through the third quarter.

The last two came off the arm of Carter, who hit Tony Small with a 34-yard TD and Jermaine Wiggins with an 8-yard TD.

Kentucky cut the lead to 28-26, but failed on a two-point conversion.

Georgia took over and had a chance to run out the clock. It marched 28 yards before Bradley fumbled.

Kentucky drove back to the Georgia 33, where Hanson lined up for the game-winner with 10 seconds left and everyone turned their heads.

"I turned around and saw everybody celebrating," Stinchcomb said, "and I knew something good must have happened."

Todd Graff covers college football for the Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3645 or tgraff@augustachronicle.com.


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