Kentucky bowl-eligible after 24-3 victory over Mississippi State
Sun, Nov 5, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Kentucky became bowl eligible by holding Mississippi State to 218 yards of offense in a 24-3 victory on Saturday night, beating the Bulldogs on the road for the first time since 2008.
It was the first time in the history of the series that the Bulldogs scored in the single digits against the Wildcats at home.
Mississippi State (4-5, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) continued a trend of poor performances on the offensive side of the ball since the loss of quarterback Will Rogers in the fourth quarter of the Western Michigan game on October 7. With Mike Wright at quarterback, the Bulldogs scored seven points in a win over Arkansas, 13 in a loss to Auburn and three points in three quarters of action against the Wildcats.
The only score of the game for MSU came on its third possession when the Bulldogs went 88 yards on an incredible 20-play drive that took 12:29 off the clock. Despite that long drive, MSU couldn't get in the end zone as the Wildcats held them to a 25-yard Kyle Ferrie field goal.
"With the way the clock rules are this year, possessions are down and plays are down and it magnifies the importance of redzone trips," coach Zach Arnett said. "Touchdown percentage in the red zone is critical."
Wright threw an interception that was returned 28 yards for a score by D'Eyrk Jackson and the Bulldogs trailed 14-3. The pick-6 was the fourth defensive touchdown of the season for the Wildcats.
Kentucky (6-3, 3-3) finished the game with just 271 yards of total offense. Devin Leary was 13-of-22 passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Tayvion Robinson had five catches for 91 yards. Ray Davis had 21 carries for 80 yards.
MSU played freshman Chris Parson in the fourth quarter, and he showed promise, but the Bulldogs couldn't score a touchdown. It was the second time in three games that MSU failed to hit double digits in points.
Wright was 11-of-21 passing for 78 yards with an interception. He rushed for 20 yards on 11 carries. The Bulldogs finished with 71 yards on 29 rushes.
Parson completed 6 of 14 passes for 67 yards but had minus-20 yards on four carries.
"I think he did a really nice job when he came in and pushed the ball down the field," Arnett said of Parson. "He was close to 100 yards passing and has some mobility to keep some plays alive. He got the ball out in time and made a couple of plays scrambling."
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continue to nosedive in the first season under Arnett. MSU is in danger of going winless at home in SEC play with a Battle of the Golden Egg date with No. 10 Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night its only remaining chance for a victory.
Kentucky: The Wildcats ended a road losing streak in the series with the Bulldogs. They're the first of the two teams to win on the road in the series since the Bulldogs won in 2014. UK had lost three straight entering the game.
Mississippi State travels to Texas A&M on Saturday.
Kentucky hosts No. 8 Alabama on Saturday.
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