For the first time in seven years, Mississippi State has lost to Kentucky. Dan Mullen had never lost to Kentucky, until last night. And now the Bulldogs are searching for answers on the way home. What originally appeared to be a defensive struggle and a field goal fest developed into a shootout that featured two scores in the last minute and a half of the game.
After a scoreless first quarter, Kentucky took a 3-0 lead in the early second quarter. But the Bulldogs started to show some life of their own in the second quarter. Malik Dear put State on the scoreboard with a 45 yard touchdown run that reminded a lot of fans what he’s capable of when he gets ahold of the ball.
A fumble by Kentucky would then give the Bulldogs the ball back and a drive capped off by a Nick Fitzgerald touchdown run gave Mississippi State a 14-3 lead. The Wildcats would bring the score to 14-6 with a field goal before the half, but things looked promising for State at the half.
The third quarter, however, showed much less promise. Mississippi State would be outscored 21-10 in the third quarter. The lone touchdown for the Bulldogs came off of a 38 yard run by Fitzgerald.
With State down 24-27 heading into the fourth quarter, it felt like State would be able to find a way to go score for score with the Wildcats and find a way to win. A pick six 9 seconds in to the fourth quarter seemingly pushed the game out of reach. And with Kentucky driving again after a Bulldog punt, the game looked like it was about to blow wide open for the Wildcats.
Kentucky was at the 6 yard line of Mississippi State with a 10 point lead and they had no issues moving the Bulldogs around. But State climbed back in to the game thanks to a scoop and score that was returned 81 yards by Mark McLaurin. The defense would hold Kentucky to a field goal a drive later and give MSU’s offense a chance to win with a late drive down 37-31.
14 plays, 77 yards later and 5 minutes and 36 seconds later, the Bulldogs had themselves the lead once again. A strong drive led by Fitzgerald that featured heavy doses of Aeris Williams and a solid run from Dear pushed the Wildcats around. The Bulldogs found success running the ball, but scored thanks to a fantastic reception from Fred Ross (who owns just about everything in the record book for receiving now).
Unfortunately, the 38-37 lead would not last much longer than about a minute. With a little over a minute to go, the Wildcats took the ball at their own 21. Five plays later, the Wildcats lined up to take a field goal attempt from the State 33 yard line. As time expired, the field goal attempt flew through the uprights.
With this loss, anyone that didn’t believe that this season up to this point is an unmitigated disaster is likely acknowledging that fact now. Mississippi State is staring 3-9 right in the face and all hopes for another bowl bid are all but lost. Mississippi State fell to 2-5 last night. They lost to Kentucky. Something that hasn’t happened in 7 years.