Bulldogs hold off Wildcats late

Lauren Wood

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen has preached all season about his team finishing out a game.

Mississippi State failed to do so in previous Southeastern Conference outings against Auburn and LSU. But the Bulldogs were able to close out their first league victory of the year on Thursday night, 28-22 over Kentucky.

“Our team did finish and I’m proud of how we finished,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “We started grinding the ball on the ground, ate up a bunch of clock and our defense came out and won the game.”

MSU (4-3, 1-2) went into halftime holding a 21-10 lead and scored a touchdown in the third quarter to hold serve with the Wildcats second-half comeback attempt.

The Bulldogs finished with 447 yards, 295 of those yards through the air. Dak Prescott started and completed 23 of 34 passing for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

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Jameon Lewis finished with 138 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in three different ways. Lewis rushed, threw and caught a touchdown in a single game for the second time this season.

Lewis finished with seven catches for 53 yards while Malcolm Johnson hauled in four for 79 yards and a score. LaDarius Perkins paced the MSU ground game with 12 carries for 65 yards.

Prescott led Mississippi State into the end zone on the opening drive. Facing 3rd-and-6, Prescott avoided a sack, rolled out and found Johnson wide open for a 60-yard scoring strike.

Kentucky would answer on the ensuing possession with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Maxwell Smith to Ryan Timmons to tie things up.

The Bulldogs would retake the lead on their next drive. A 35-yard run by Perkins would set up a Lewis 19-yard touchdown run after an option pitch.

MSU would extend its lead to 21-7 in the second quarter. Prescott capped off a 10-play drive with a 17-yard touchdown toss to Lewis.

After missing a 47-yarder earlier in the quarter, Joe Mansour would boot a career-long 45-yard field goal with 31-seconds remaining in the first half.

It was enough time to set up a 47-yard try from Devon Bell but the sophomore’s kicking woes continued pushing it left of the uprights.

Kentucky would get two points on a safety during the third quarter. Prescott was sacked for an 18-yard loss by Alvin Dupree and Za’Darius Smith at the 4-yard line. The following punt snap exchange was botched and the ball rolled out of the end zone.

The Wildcats would take advantage of the free kick possession as well. Jalen Whitlow entered the game at quarterback leading UK into the end zone. Jojo Kemp scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard run closing the gap to 21-19.

State responded with a seven-play, 74 yard scoring drive of its own.

Lewis would toss his second touchdown of the season to Prescott, this time a 17-yarder, to extend the advantage.

Mansour would add another 45-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter but that would be as close as the Wildcats (1-6, 0-4) could get.

Kentucky finished with 325 yards on offense.

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