STARKVILLE, Miss. (UK Athletics) – Lynn Bowden Jr. caught seven passes for 129 yards, and A.J. Rose carried nine times for 105 yards, but Kentucky lost at Mississippi State 28-13 on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
Quarterback Sawyer Smith connected on 15 of 41 passing for 232 yards, but no touchdowns. Josh Ali caught a career-high five passes for 61 yards in the game.
Kentucky (2-2, 0-2 SEC) got the ball to begin the game and after Rose earned a first down on the ground, Smith was intercepted by Willie Gay, who returned the pick 52 yards for a touchdown. Jace Christmann added the PAT and the Bulldogs grabbed a 7-0 lead just 1:25 into the game.
After the teams exchanged punts, Kentucky mounted its first big drive of the game. The Cats went 10 plays, covering 58 yards, and UK got on the board when Chance Poore nailed a 40-yard field goal, cutting the MSU lead to 7-3 with 2:49 remaining in the first quarter. That would be the score after the first 15 minutes of play.
MSU had the answer, marching 75 yards in nine plays, capped by a Kylin Hill nine-yard touchdown rush early in the second quarter. The PAT was good, and the Bulldogs led 14-3 with 13:24 left in the first half.
After another Kentucky punt, MSU drove 80 yards in 10 plays and Hill scored again, this time from two yards out. Christmann’s extra point made it 21-3 with 4:45 left in the first half.
Late in the first half, MSU appeared to be ready to add to the lead, but Quandre Moseley intercepted the first pass of his UK career and returned it 39 yards to the MSU 49 yard line with 48 seconds left in the half. But the Cats settled for a 47-yard field goal try that Poore missed to the left, and the teams went to the locker room with the Bulldogs leading 21-3.
Mississippi State took the second half kickoff and immediately drove into Kentucky territory. But Brandin Echols, who led Kentucky with 10 tackles on the day, forced a fumble, which was recovered by UK’s Jamari Brown at the UK 20. The Cats took advantage of the turnover, going 80 yards in 11 plays, finishing with a Kavosiey Smoke two-yard touchdown rush. Poore’s PAT made it 21-10 MSU with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
After MSU was forced to punt, Kentucky mounted another drive, getting deep inside Bulldog territory early in the fourth quarter. But the Cats could not punch it in, and Poore missed a 26-yard field goal with 12:15 to play.
Kentucky’s final points of the game came later in the fourth quarter when Matt Ruffolo attempted, and made, his first career field goal. The 29-yarder cut the MSU lead to 21-13, but the Bulldogs added a late touchdown to provide the final margin of victory.
Kentucky returns to action on Saturday, visiting Columbia, South Carolina, to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. Kickoff from Williams-Brice Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.