STARKVILLE, Miss. — Led by true freshman quarterback Garret Shrader and junior running back Kylin Hill, the Mississippi State football team got back in the win column with a 28-13 win Saturday evening at Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0 SEC) begin their Southeastern Conference play with a win for the third time in the last four years. The Wildcats (2-2, 0-2 SEC) have now lost back-to-back conference games.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the opening drive of the game when junior linebacker Willie Gay Jr. intercepted a pass and brought it back 52 yards for a touchdown.
Kentucky responded when freshman kicker Chance Poore made a 40-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game at the end of the first quarter.
State would score two touchdowns in the ensuing quarter to take a 21-3 lead into the halftime break. Both touchdowns came at the hands of Hill, one from 12 yards out and one from two yards out.
Kentucky began to cut into the lead when freshman running back Kavosiey Smoke punched it in from the 2-yard line with 5:30 to go in the third quarter. Junior kicker Matt Ruffolo then made a 29-yard field goal to cut the Bulldog lead to just 21-13 early in the fourth quarter.
The game would all came down to a crucial third down play with 3:48 on the clock. With four yards to convert, Shrader called his own number and ran 49 yards all the way down to the Kentucky 20-yard line. Hill iced the game three plays later with a 1-yard rushing touchdown to make it 26-13.
Shrader finished the game with 180 passing yards on 17-of-22 passing. He also rushed for 125 rushing yards on 11 carries. Hill finished with 120 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
The Bulldog defense held Kentucky to 386 yards of total offense. Junior safety C.J. Morgan led the defense with a career-high nine tackles and career-best two pass breakups in the game.
State will now head to Alabama to face No. 8 Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC). Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m CT and will be televised by ESPN.