Kentucky football will try to go 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1977 when the Wildcats play 14th-ranked Mississippi State at Kroger Field on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN2. We will have updates and analysis throughout the game. Also follow on Twitter @johnclayiv.
Final: Kentucky 28, Mississippi State 7
Kentucky extends lead to 28-7 with 3:45 left
First, Benny Snell picked up nine yards on a fourth-and-two. Next play, Snell went 23 yards for his fourth touchdown of the night. UK closing in on being 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1977. Snell with 165 yards on 25 carries.
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Kentucky stops State on fourth-and-three
Aeris Williams stopped yard short of first down on own 41. Kentucky takes over with 6:39 left. UK up 21-7.
A pick and then a UK six
Redshirt freshman Tyrell Ajian picks off a Fitzgerald pass and returns it 35 yards to the MSU 36-yard line. First play, Benny Snell bursts through the left side and goes 36 yards for the touchdown. Kentucky now up 21-7 with 8:00 left. Special shout-out to UK’s Josh Allen. He has been in the State backfield all night. Can’t be blocked.
Mississippi State starting from own 49 with 9:43 left
Kentucky clinging to a 14-7 lead. The Cats were forced to punt from own 11 when Terry Wilson was sacked for an eight-yard loss on third down. The UK defense has had a terrific night. Need to keep it up here. Total yards: Kentucky 200, Mississippi State 196.
End of third quarter: Kentucky 14, Miss State 7
Bulldogs currently at UK 25. Here are the stats through three quarters.
UK makes big stop on third-and-two
State fails to convert on third-and-two from own 49. Just a one-yard gain. Coach Joe Moorhead opts to punt. There’s 2:16 left in the third quarter. Kentucky leads 14-7.
Kentucky marches 92 yards to take a 14-7 lead
Benny Snell had a 20-yard run on the drive. Biggest play was a 23-yard pass from Wilson to C.J. Conrad, who made a great catch at the State 9-yard line. Snell scored from the one to make it 14-7 with 6:03 left. Mississippi State picked up two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the drive.
Holding Nick Fitzgerald in check
Mississippi State is forced to punt from own 33-yard line on first possession of second half. Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 159 yards vs. Kansas State, then 109 vs. Louisiana. The MSU quarterback has 26 yards on 11 carries so far against Kentucky.
Halftime: Kentucky 7, Mississippi State 7
That UK scoring drive before the end of the half was huge. The Kentucky offense had shot itself in the foot with penalties and the inability to convert third downs. Then Terry Wilson hit Dorian Baker, who made a tiptoe catch under tight coverage for a 23-yard gain at the two-yard line. Benny Snell scored on the next play.
Surprise stat from first half: Kentucky with 100 rushing yards to just 35 for Mississippi State. The visitors entered the game fifth nationally in rushing, averaging 311.7 yards per game. UK entered 12th nationally at 282.3 yards per game. Benny Snell leads the Cats with 60 yards on 11 carries, though the junior was barely used in the second quarter.
State has converted four-of-eight third downs, all four on the Bulldogs’ scoring drive. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is 10-of-17 for 113 yards passing. He has 24 rushing yards on nine attempts. Wilson is four-of-eight for 33 yards through the air.
Total yards: Mississippi State 148, Kentucky 133. Pretty even game. Here’s the box.
Kentucky is 4-2 under Mark Stoops in games tied at the half, by the way.
Kentucky ties game 7-7 with 50 seconds left in first half
After forcing a three-and-out at the State 16-yard line, UK took over at the Bulldogs’ 47 and capitalized. Key play was a 23-yard pass from Terry Wilson to Dorian Baker, who made a nice sideline catch at the two-yard line. Benny Snell did the honors from there. e are tied with 50 seconds left in the half.
Kentucky’s third down problems continue
Cats now 1-of-6 on third down. Forced to punt after a three-and-out. With 3:24 left in first half, Mississippi State leads 7-0. Bulldogs starting possession on own 10-yard line.
Montez Sweat makes his presence known
State’s star defensive end combined with Braxton Hoyett to sack UK quarterback Terry Wilson for a 14-yard loss on a third-and-five. UK is forced to punt again. Kentucky’s first half possessions: punt, punt, missed field goal, punt. There is 5:35 left in the first half. State has a 7-0 lead on the Cats.
Mississippi State takes 7-0 lead with 8:42 left in first half
The Bulldogs converted four third-down situations on the drive, which started at the 20-yard line. It was a 15-play drive. Key play was Nick Fitzgerald’s 24-yard pass to a wide open Stephen Guidry on a third-and-13 that put the ball at the UK two. Two plays later, Fitzgerald scored from the one. MSU is now four-of-six on third-down conversions. UK is 1-of-14. Total yards: Mississippi State 107, Kentucky 77.
End of 1Q: No score
Here’s the box. UK outgained Mississippi State 77-58, but a pair of penalties stopped drives by the home team. State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was five-of-eight for 43 yards in the first quarter.
Miles Butler misses field goal
Kentucky gets the game’s first scoring opportunity, driving to the Mississippi State 18-yard line, but Miles Butler missed a 35-yard field goal. It was Butler’s first miss of the season after making two field goals last week against Murray State. UK was hurt by a Drake Jackson holding penalty in that drive. That’s two possessions hurt ty offensive line penalties. No score with 1:59 left in first quarter.
Each team punts on its second possession
Kentucky had a drive going, until guard Logan Stenberg was called for a dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that turned a third-and-three into a third-and-18. The Cats punted. Mississippi State then went three-and-out for second straight possession. Nick Fitzgerald has yet to run the ball for the Bullodgs. There’s 7:14 left in first quarter. No score.
Each team punts on its first possession
Benny Snell picked up 15 yards on his first two carries. UK crossed midfield but were forced to punt. After a touchback, Mississippi State went three-out. There’s 11:24 left in the first quarter. No score.
Moment of silence
A moment of silence was held for Marco Shemwell, the four-year-old boy who died Monday after being struck by a car outside Kroger Field during last Saturday’s UK-Murray State game. More details here.
Pre-game trash talking
With about 45 minutes until kickoff, Mississippi State and Kentucky players were apparently trash talking at midfield to the point where officials and coaches had to step in and play peacekeepers. Reports that star UK running back Benny Snell and star Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeff Simmons were among the instigators.