UK Football

UK football ends 18-game skid against ranked opponents with 21-13 win over No. 25 Missouri

Missouri Tigers linebacker Clarence Green (40) missed a tackle on Kentucky Wildcats running back Boom Williams (18) as the University of Kentucky played the University of Missouri in Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, September 26, 2015. This is first quarter college football action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff
Missouri Tigers linebacker Clarence Green (40) missed a tackle on Kentucky Wildcats running back Boom Williams (18) as the University of Kentucky played the University of Missouri in Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, September 26, 2015. This is first quarter college football action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

Kentucky has been trying to exorcise demons all season.

Long road streaks were broken, close games won.

The Cats snapped another on Saturday night, ending an 18-game skid against ranked opponents with a 21-13 victory over No. 25 Missouri in front of 58,008 at Commonwealth Stadium.

A few Cats drove out some personal demons, too, including quarterback Patrick Towles, who bounced back from the worst performance of his career versus Florida, to complete 22 of 27 passes for 249 yards.

And Dorian Baker, who has been haunted by drops this season, had perhaps two of the biggest catches of his career in a 25-yard one-hander on third down, just ahead of a 5-yard touchdown catch that put Kentucky up 21-10 with 4:23 to go.

And UK's defense, which has struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks. It didn't exactly stop Maty Mauk, but it did enough to contain Missouri's offense to win the game.

And UK's offensive line — pieced together — held long enough to only allow two sacks to statistically one of the nation's best defensive lines.

The Cats (3-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) managed 369 yards of offense. Garrett Johnson had six catches for 119 yards and was one of eight receivers to catch a Towles pass.

Baker had his TD catch as did tight end C.J. Conrad, whose 24-yarder put the Cats up for good, 14-10, late in the third quarter.

With 3:49 to go in the first quarter, the Tigers got on the board first via a 17-yard pass from Mauk to J'Mon Moore that capped a 13-play drive that covered 80 yards in a little more than six minutes.

What looked like a huge pass to Baker to open the Cats' second drive was negated by double penalties — a hold on Cole Mosier and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the UK wide receiver after the catch.

But UK got it back and more with Towles finding Garrett Johnson on back-to-back passes (for 28 and 24 yards) in the center of the field to get the Cats within striking distance.

It helped set up a 14-yard Towles scramble down the left side. On third down, the quarterback had to reverse field and galloped untouched into the end zone for the Cats' first touchdown since the first half at South Carolina.

It was just the second rushing touchdown given up by the Tigers this season. Towles, who completed just 33.3 percent of his passes in the previous game, connected on eight of nine throws for 67 yards on that scoring drive.

By the break, the junior quarterback had thrown to seven different receivers (including himself on a freak batted-back play early). Missouri's been holding opponents to 112 yards through the air in games this season, and UK already had 120 passing yards by the break.

Kentucky had an opportunity to test its two-minute drill skills to end the first half, including having two timeouts left to burn, but opted to go into the locker room at an even 7-7.

The Tigers (3-1, 0-1) went up 10-7 late in the third quarter when Andrew Baggett nailed a 39-yard field goal to cap a seven-play, 36-yard drive.

The Cats, who played much of the game without starting left tackle Jordan Swindle, had to piece together an offensive line with several backups. That group held up in the first half, not allowing a sack and yielding just one tackle for loss, but Missouri got more aggressive in the second half.

Still UK found a way to get down the field and go ahead 14-10 on the 24-yard pass to Conrad late in the third quarter. The drive, which went nine plays for 75 yards, was fueled by two huge plays from Jojo Kemp, including a play where he leaped up into the air over a defender. He led UK's rushers with 13 carries for 66 yards.

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