Mississippi St. 42, Kentucky 32
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) _ Keffer McGee ran for three touchdowns as Mississippi State snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday with a 42-32 victory over Kentucky.
Kentucky’s Moe Williams rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s 1,000th game, but couldn’t get in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
With its best offensive weapon, receiver Eric Moulds, out with a sprained ankle, Mississippi State (3-5, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) turned to the ground _ and McGee _ to make up the difference.
McGee ran for 127 yards, scoring on two touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards to break a 32-32 tie with less than five minutes left. State added an insurance field goal, Brian Hazelwood’s second, with 2:26 remaining.
Kentucky (3-5, 2-4), which managed only a field goal against Georgia a week ago, had four touchdowns and 426 yards to State’s 361. But the Wildcats’ offense sputtered in the final minutes, with a fumble and interception in key late scoring opportunities.
State quarterback Derrick Taite, who was briefly taken from the game after bruising his hip, returned to complete nine of 16 for 166 yards and one touchdown.
State trailed 25-22 at halftime and had just 148 yards to Kentucky’s 274 and had one-third as many first downs.
The Bulldogs made some costly first-half mistakes, including a second-quarter fumble on their first drive after Williams’ 1-yard keeper. Seven plays later, tailback Ray McLaurin dived in from the 2 for the second Wildcats score in less than three minutes.
Kentucky’s next drive was kept alive by two State penalties, and quarterback Billy Jack Haskins, who was 9-for-11 with one interception and 125 yards, ran the last yard for the TD.
Mississippi State’s first-half scores came on a blocked punt return that Adesola Badon scooped up and ran in from the 10, a 2-yard run by McGee and Taite’s 4-yard pass to Nakia Greer.
Williams, the SEC’s leading rusher, took a screen pass from Haskins and jaunted 61 yards for a touchdown with two minutes remaining in the third quarter for Kentucky’s last score. Williams, who averaged 7 yards per carry, also scored on a 53-yard run in the first quarter.
The victory ends coach Jackie Sherrill’s longest losing streak at Mississippi State.