Kylin Hill rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns, and Willie Gay Jr. returned an interception 52 yards for a score before being ejected for a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, leading Mississippi State to a 28-13 win over Kentucky on Saturday in Starkville, Miss.
Freshman Garrett Shrader, starting in place of injured Tommy Stevens at quarterback, completed 17 of 22 passes for 180 yards and rushed for 125 yards for the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0 SEC). Mississippi State totaled 241 rushing yards for the game.
Shrader’s runs of 49 and 18 yardsn set up the Bulldogs’ game-sealing touchdown. One play after the 18-yarder, Hill reached over the goal line with the ball with 1:39 left to play.
“He’s one of the best backs in the country and he played like it again today,” Bulldogs coach Joe Moorhead said of Hill after the game.
Kentucky (2-2, 0-2) had chances to get closer on the scoreboard, but kicker Chance Poore missed field-goal attempts of 26 and 47 yards, making only a 40-yarder. Poore was replaced by Matt Ruffolo late in the fourth quarter for a 29-yard try, which Ruffolo made to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 21-13 with 4:39 to play in the game.
Kentucky finished 1 of 12 on third-down conversions, and lost chances for big plays with dropped passes.
After Gay’s interception return of a Sawyer Smith pass in the first quarter, Hill’s first touchdown came at the 13:24 mark of the second quarter, a 12-yard run to give Mississippi State a 14-3 lead. Hill added a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:45 to go before halftime for a 21-3 edge at the break.
Smith, hampered by a sore shoulder, finished 15 of 41 for 232 yards. Kentucky hasn’t won in Starkville since 2008.
Kavosiey Smoke scored Kentucky’s only touchdown on a 2-yard run in the third quarter. Asim Rose ran for 105 yards on nine carries in the loss.
—Field Level Media