Recap: Kentucky vs. Miss State
Lexington, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Josh Robinson ran for a career-high 198 yards and two touchdowns, the last a back-breaking 73-yarder in the fourth quarter that helped No. 1 Mississippi State to a hard-earned 45-31 win over Kentucky.
Robinson's critical run with 11:47 to play came with the Bulldogs clinging to a 31-24 lead and enabled Mississippi State (7-0, 4-0 SEC) to withstand a four- touchdown effort from Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles and remain unbeaten in its first-ever game as the nation's top-ranked team.
"Josh Robinson does a great job carrying the ball and a great job carrying our team on his back -- and even carrying their team on his back," joked Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen.
Dak Prescott aided the cause by running for two touchdowns and throwing for another, though the Heisman candidate was overall outplayed by Towles, who put up 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air and added 76 rushing yards and two scores.
His final TD run brought Kentucky (5-3, 2-3) within 38-31 with 2:31 remaining, but MSU's Christian Holmes took the ensuing onside kick attempt 61 yards for a touchdown that foiled the upset bid.
"We knew that we could play with anybody in the country," said Towles. 'I'm not sure the country knew that we could play with anybody in the country, but we fought like I knew we would. We just didn't make enough plays."
Prescott finished 18-of-33 for 216 yards with one interception and tallied 88 yards on the ground on 18 attempts.
Towles' second touchdown throw of the day, a 58-yard connection to Javess Blue late in the third quarter, had the Wildcats down just 31-24 and created a surge of momentum that carried to the defense, which stopped Mississippi State on downs at the Kentucky 35 on the following possession.
The Bulldogs' defense then came up with a big stop of its own, forcing a three-and-out before Robinson broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage, got into open space and alertly cut to the left to elude his pursuers and put Mississippi State back up by two touchdowns.
Ryan Timmons couldn't come down with Towles' pass in the end zone on 4th-and-4 from the MSU 19 with 5:26 to go, but Kentucky did cash in on its next drive. After completing four straight attempts to get his team back in scoring range, Towles barreled across the goal line from four yards away to keep the Wildcats' hopes alive.
They quickly vanished, however, after Landon Foster's onsides try bounced right into the hands of Holmes. The Bulldogs' tight end shook off a tackle before breaking free down the sideline with 2:22 on the final clock to seal Kentucky's 16th straight loss to a top-25 foe.
"These are young kids and I think they played on the end a little tight at times during the game today," said Mullen. "But we continued to find a way to make plays and continued to find ways to win a game."
After enjoying a week off to savor its first-ever No. 1 ranking, the Bulldogs' high-powered offense wasn't affected at all by the layoff at the game's outset. Prescott went 5-for-5 in directing an 11-play, 82-yard opening drive Robinson capped with a 12-yard run up the middle.
Kentucky had a quick response, with Demarco Robinson hauling in Towles' deep ball down the right sideline and shaking free of cornerback Tolando Cleveland before racing untouched for a 67-yard score.
Braylon Heard lost a fumble on the Wildcats' following series, however, with Benardrick McKinney recovering the loose ball at the opposing 19. Kentucky's defense held near its own end, though, forcing Evan Sobiesk into a 26-yard field goal that sent the Bulldogs back ahead late in the first quarter.
Prescott was sharp again on Mississippi State's next offensive touch, completing all four of his throws on a 10-play, 68-march the standout signal- caller ended with a leaping 1-yard run into the end zone for a 17-7 lead with 10:20 left in the half.
The Wildcats cut their deficit down to seven points at the intermission on Austin MacGinnis' 34-yard field goal. The kick finished off a 12-play, 58- yard drive in which Towles hit on his first three pass attempts and had a key 8-yard scramble on 3rd-and-7.
Mississippi State then came out strong to begin the second half, with Josh Robinson ripping off three straight runs totaling 34 yards and Prescott making it a two-score game once more with a 11-yard run on a quarterback draw that completed an 11-play, 75-yard sequence.
Towles countered with a 48-yard gain on a designed run on the subsequent play from scrimmage, however, then completed three consecutive passes prior to weaving across the goal line from 10 yards out on 3rd-and-goal to get Kentucky within 24-17 nearing the midway stage of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs restored the 14-point advantage later in the period by churning out 81 yards in just three snaps. After Prescott found a wide-open Robert Johnson for 36 yards and the Wildcats were flagged for pass interference, Brandon Hill came down with Prescott's 8-yard fade toss in the corner of the end zone with 4:44 to go in the third.
Kentucky again had a swift answer, as Blue got behind the defense and Towles hit him in stride to trim the lead to 31-24 just over a minute after Hill's score.Game Notes
Robinson's 198 yards eclipsed his previous career high of 197 set in the
Bulldogs' 34-29 win at LSU on Sept. 20 ... Kentucky fell to 3-12 all-time
against No. 1 teams and hasn't topped a ranked opponent since a 31-28 win over
South Carolina on Oct. 16, 2010 ... Towles, the grandson of Hall of Fame
pitcher and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, completed 24-of-43 attempts and
set career bests for both passing and rushing yards ... Mississippi State
rushed for 326 yards, one week after Kentucky allowed 303 on the ground in a
41-3 loss at LSU ... Timmons totaled 114 yards on five catches ... The
Bulldogs have now won six straight in the series and five in a row in