Towles' Career-Day Not Enough to Lift UK Past No. 1 MSU
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A career-outing by sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles was not enough for Kentucky to pull off an upset of visiting No. 1 Mississippi State on Saturday night in front of a season-high 64,791 rabid fans in Commonwealth Stadium. Towles’ career-high numbers included touchdowns (4), passing yards (390), and rushing yards (76) in the first meeting at home against a No. 1 foe since UK upset LSU in three-overtimes in 2007.
Towles was 24-of-43 for 390 yards with two touchdowns through the air, while connecting with nine different receivers. The Ft. Thomas, Ky., native logged 76 yards on 23 attempts and a pair of scores on the ground which included a career-long rush of 48 yards in the third quarter. Towles accounted for four plays of more than 40 yards including a pair of touchdown tosses that went for 58 yards or longer.
Senior Alvin ‘Bud’ Dupree led the defensive charge with 10 total tackles. He accounted for 1.5 tackles for a loss including a sack in the second quarter. Dupree is six sacks shy of becoming UK’s all-time career leader in that category. He also had a team-high two quarterback hurries.
Kentucky falls to 5-3 overall on the year and 2-3 within Southeastern Conference action. UK will travel to Missouri on Saturday, Nov. 1 for a game set to start at 4 p.m. ET and air on the SEC Network.
Mississippi State improves to 7-0 overall and 4-0 against league foes. The Bulldogs were led by quarterback Dak Prescott who passed for 216 yards and a touchdown. He added 88 rushing yards and a pair of scores. Running back Josh Robinson rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
After Mississippi State drove 82-yards for a touchdown on its first possession, the Wildcats utilized a five-play 78-yard drive to counter the No. 1 team in the country. Towles found senior Demarco Robinson on a curl route to the sidelines, and he tip-toed the sideline before racing 67 yards for the score. The touchdown haul was the first of the year for Robinson and the third of his career.
Kentucky’s defense forced a three-and-out on the Bulldogs’ next drive, but suffered a fumble at its own 19-yard line on its second play giving the ball back to State. UK’s defense limited the Bulldogs to a 26-yard field goal giving the visitors a 10-7 lead with 2:41 remaining in the opening quarter.
Mississippi State started the second quarter by going 68 yards over 10 plays capped by a two-yard plunge by Prescott to lift the Bulldogs to a 17-7 advantage. Kentucky answered with a 12-play, 58-yard drive of its own which ended in a 34-yard field goal by freshman Austin MacGinnis.
With the Bulldogs driving late in the half, Dupree applied pressure to Prescott forcing a tipped pass that was intercepted by Josh Forrest with under a minute to play in the half. It was the third interception of the season by UK’s middle linebacker. UK drove to State’s 40-yard line and attempted a 50-yard field goal to end the half, but it missed wide right.
Mississippi State began the second half with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive to take a 24-10 lead. Prescott scampered 12-yards for the score, his second rushing TD of the game.
The Wildcats answered with an eight-play, 86-yard scoring drive. A career-long 48-yard dash by Towles highlighted the drive. The QB scurried for a 10-yard score on third down to make it 24-17 in favor of the visitors with 8:33 remaining in the third quarter. It marked the third time in Towles’ career that he rushed and threw for at least one touchdown.
After trading three-and-outs, Mississippi State capitalized on an 81-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Brandon Hill for a 31-17 advantage.
Kentucky fired back with a gorgeous pitch-and-catch from Towles to senior wideout Javess Blue for 58 yards and the touchdown to make it a one score game yet again. It marked the third hook-up between the two for a play that went at least 40 yards in 2014. Blue has now pulled in three touchdowns this season and seven during his two-year career.
With the Wildcats within striking distance, MSU’s Robinson broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run with 11:47 remaining in the game to give the visitors a two-possession lead at 38-24.
Kentucky put together a nice drive which included a 55-yard catch by sophomore Ryan Timmons late in the fourth quarter. The drive stalled at the Mississippi State 19 as the Wildcats could not convert on fourth-and-four. Timmons’ catch was the fifth of the game for 114 yards – his first 100-yard receiving game of his career. UK quickly forced a three-and-out to give life to the Commonwealth Stadium crowd with 4:09 remaining.
Kentucky made it a one-score game with 2:31 to go after Towles rushed for his second TD of the game on a four-yard charge. Towles completed five-straight passes to move the ball 67 yards down the field setting up the scoring play. Towles became the first Wildcat to account for a pair of scores both through the air and on the ground since Jalen Whitlow turned the trick vs. Alabama State on Nov. 2, 2013.
On the ensuing kickoff, Kentucky attempted an on-side kick which was picked up and returned 61 yards for the game-clinching score by Christian Holmes.