Kentucky Falls to Mississippi State
Oct. 31, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Anthony Dixon rushed for two touchdowns and a school-record 252 yards as Mississippi State kept its bowl hopes alive by outlasting Kentucky 31-24 on Saturday night.
Dixon broke Jerious Norwood's single-game record of 247 yards just two weeks after he surpassed Norwood's career rushing mark of 3,212 yards. Norwood set the one-game record in 2005 against Houston.
Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) won its second straight matchup in Lexington against the Wildcats (4-4, 1-4), who defeated the Bulldogs last year in Starkville.
Dixon scored his second touchdown from 3 yards out with a minute left in the third quarter to give the Bulldogs their winning margin.
Kentucky freshman quarterback Morgan Newton led the Wildcats inside the 20 in an attempt to tie, but turned the ball over on downs with 1 minute to go.
Dixon was already the Bulldogs' all-time leader in attempts, touchdowns and 100-yard games, and came into the game 15th in SEC history in rushing.
Kentucky led 14-3 early, but the Bulldogs never let the Wildcats maintain momentum, answering big plays with bigger ones of their own.
Dixon's first score, a 1-yard plunge, was set up by a 53-yard sprint by Chris Relf, who briefly relieved struggling Tyson Lee at quarterback in the first half. Dixon got 116 of his record yardage before halftime.
After Randall Cobb put the Wildcats up by a touchdown in the third quarter by scoring from 3 yards on a direct snap, Lee turned in the longest play of the game two snaps later. He found O'Neal Wilder sprinting down the center of the field and hit him in stride for a 67-yard touchdown, tying the score at 24.
Newton, starting just his third game for Kentucky, had no plays of that length but displayed the most poise of his brief career, three times completing passes on third-and-long. The first two led to scoring drives, but the third was in Kentucky's final drive, which fell short.
Newton scored once with his legs, dragging multiple defenders with him and running it in from 11 yards out. Earlier, Derrick Locke gave the Wildcats a 7-3 lead by scampering 10 yards into the end zone, largely untouched.
Mississippi State had plenty of chances early - including one drive where the Bulldogs advanced to the Kentucky 2. However, on fourth-and-goal, Lee's pass was picked off by Sam Maxwell to end the threat. He threw another interception - this one by Randall Burden - on his next pass, sparking the brief change to Relf.
Kentucky led 17-10 at halftime on a 38-yard field goal by Lones Seiber. Cobb gave the Wildcats an opportunity to tack on those points with a 46-yard punt return.
It was just the second punt return of the half for the Wildcats, and the first appeared to be even bigger as Gene McCaskill tiptoed the sideline and sprinted toward the end zone. However, Kentucky was forced to start the drive near midfield when officials ruled he was pushed out of bounds.
The Wildcats quickly gave up the ball. Newton threw a backward pass intended for Cobb that was instead picked up by Chris White.
Mississippi State flipped field position with a 37-yard run by Dixon, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Derek DePasquale for the first points of the game.