Kentucky boots Bulldogs on last-second field goal

Published 11:48 pm Saturday, October 22, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Austin MacGinnis kicked a season-long 51-yard field goal as time expired to lift Kentucky to a 40-38 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.

MacGinnis also made field goals of 46, 32 and 32 yards but missed a 28-yard attempt Kentucky’s opening series.

Mississippi State trailed 34-24 with 14:57 remaining, but used two late touchdowns to make things interesting down the stretch, setting the tone for the exciting finish.

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Kentucky’s Stephen Johnson was 17-of-33 passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns but had two fumbles, both resulting in touchdowns for the Bulldogs. One led to an 81-yard touchdown run by Mark McLaurin that pulled the Bulldogs within 34-31 with 9:33 remaining.

The Wildcats (4-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) need two wins — with five games remaining in the regular season — to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010. They got one of them by snapping a seven-game losing streak in their series with Mississippi State.

It was Kentucky’s first win over Mississippi State (2-5, 1-3) since 2008 and marked the first time the Wildcats have won three or more conference games since the 2009 season.

The loss was the third straight for the Bulldogs, who have struggled without former standout Dak Prescott, now turning heads in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.

Jeff Badet hauled in seven passes for 139 yards — including touchdowns of 44 and 40 yards — for Kentucky. Benny Snell added 128 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Kentucky finished with 554 total yards and limited the Bulldogs to 362 yards.

Kentucky pulled within 14-12 on a double reverse out of the Wildcat formation from Snell to Ryan Timmons, to Johnson, who capped the play with a 44-yard touchdown strike to Badet to open the second half.

The Wildcats took their first lead on Snell’s 34-yard touchdown run on Kentucky’s second series of the half. Johnson’s two-point conversion pass to Tevin Richardson gave the Wildcats a 20-17 lead with 6:26 remaining in the third quarter.

Fitzgerald paced Mississippi State’s offense with 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including a 7-yard strike to Fred Ross to give the Bulldogs a 38-37 lead with 1:09 remaining.

Kentucky came back down the field and got in position for MacGinnis’ winning kick when Johnson hit Badet for an 18-yard gain to the Mississippi State 33. Kentucky started the drive with all three timeouts and used one to kill the clock and bring on the kicker.

“We practice that play every week, we’re nine seconds — and our players know if there’s no timeouts and under three, we have to snap it. We have the play that we go to and we have to get down right there. If he runs around, the game is over,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “So we run it, hit the dig and get down on the ground and call a time-out and hopefully make the field goal and it worked. It worked this time.”