In the first half, I don’t think you could describe what Kentucky did in Starkville as “football.” An ugly affair, Mark Stoops’ team put the embarrassing 30 minutes in the past to mount a valiant second half comeback. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
Mississippi State weathered the storm and played stout in the red zone to hold off Kentucky for a 28-13 at Davis Wade Stadium.
A pick six from Sawyer Smith on the fourth play of the game immediately put Kentucky behind the eight-ball. The Bulldogs surged to a 21-3 lead before the Cats showed any life. An interception by Quandre Mosely gave UK a chance to score in the final minute, until a deep ball bounced off Lynn Bowden’s fingertips, setting up a 47-yard missed field goal by Chance Poore.
The Cats turned a new page in the second half. After the defense forced a fumble, UK went 80 yards in 11 plays to setup a Kavosiey Smoke 2-yard touchdown run. A quick stop gave UK another scoring opportunity, driving all the way down to the 8-yard line. Instead of scoring a touchdown, Poore missed his second field goal of the night, UK’s second scoreless trip to the red zone of the night.
Kentucky got one more shot at putting up points, but the 26-yard miss cut too deep. The Cats settled for a field goal, this time by Matt Ruffalo, to make it a one-score game. Needing a stop, Garrett Shrader’s 49-yard run set up a score that officially iced the game.
The Cats were hungover from the Florida loss for a half. Luckily, it was only one half. If the Cats can solve their red zone woes, there’s still a path to a successful season.