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Bulldogs Notch Road Win At Kentucky, 28-16


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind a three-touchdown night from quarterback Chris Relf, the Mississippi State football team won its first Southeastern Conference game of the season, 28-16 over the Kentucky Wildcats on a crisp, cool fall night at Commonwealth Stadium.

MSU won its third straight in the series and also won for the seventh time ever in Lexington. Behind the strong play of Relf and quarterbacking counterpart Tyler Russell, the Maroon and White built a 21-6 halftime lead and withstood a late UK rally.

With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in league play. Kentucky dropped to 3-5 and 0-4. MSU is now within two wins of earning bowl eligibility for a second straight season.

The Bulldogs alternated quarterbacks for most series throughout the contest. On some occasions, Russell started the drive with Relf being used in short-yardage situations. For the contest, Russell was 9-of-12 passing for 172 yards with a touchdown. Relf was 6-of-9 passing for 69 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Relf also contributed to the rushing game with six keeps for 13 yards and a pair of scores.

After spotting Kentucky an early 3-0 lead, the Bulldogs responded with back-to-back scoring drives. Relf led the Bulldogs on an 80-yard, eight-play scoring march. The big play on the march was a 26-yard completion to Chad Bumphis. Relf would later hit Ricco Sanders for a pair of 15-yard completions, including the touchdown.

MSU then forced a Kentucky punt. This time, the Bulldogs moved 65 yards on six plays. Russell made the highlight throw on this drive with a 40-yard pitch-and-catch to Michael Carr. A 9-yard rush by LaDarius Perkins, preceded a 3-yard scoring rush by Relf.

The Bulldogs' second lost fumble of the half put Kentucky on the edge of the red zone again. The MSU defense stiffened and UK's Craig McIntosh was true on a 22-yard field goal.

MSU moved 80 yards on five plays to set up the 21-6 advantage at halftime. Russell hit Marcus Green on a 50-yard pass reception. Relf capped the driving with a 12-yard touchdown rush.

McIntosh's third field goal brought the Wildcats within 21-9 midway through the third quarter. The Maroon and White then slammed the door with their third 80-yard drive of the contest. Russell hit Arceto Clark for a big 26-yard pickup and later found Malcolm Johnson on a 13-yard scoring strike.

For the Bulldogs, a season-long struggle in the red zone ended for one night at least, as MSU scored four different red zone touchdowns in the contest.

Kentucky answered early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats completed a critical fourth down before closing out a 70-yard, 11-play drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown from Jonathan George.

From there, the Bulldog defense stiffened and closed the deal.

MSU finished with 21 first downs and 398 total yards. The Bulldogs ran 32 times for 134 yards, while overcoming three turnovers. Vick Ballard ran 17 times for a team-high 87 yards.

Kentucky finished with 18 first downs and 307 total yards. The Wildcats completed 29-of-38 passes for 189 yards, while running 39 times for 118 yards. Kentucky did not commit a turnover.



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