Rapid Reaction: Efficient, relentless Missouri stifles Kentucky
An efficient offense and a smothering defense keyed Missouri’s 20-10 victory over Kentucky on Saturday at Faurot Field.
It was Mizzou’s 2nd consecutive SEC victory under first-year coach Eli Drinkwitz.
Connor Bazelak, in his 2nd career start, hit for a high completion percentage and passed for over 200 yards as the Missouri defense smothered Kentucky. It took until the first play of the 4th quarter for Kentucky to top 100 yards of total offense, and Missouri controlled the ball for over 31 of the game’s first 45 minutes. Tigers running back Larry Rountree also was a key contributor, punching in a pair of touchdowns and 126 yards rushing.
After a scoreless 1st quarter, Missouri got on the board when Rountree capped a 13-play, 66-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run with 10:57 to go in the half. Kentucky countered with a 7-play 43-yard drive with backup QB Joey Gatewood that ended in a 50-yard field goal by Matt Ruffolo with 8:24 to go before halftime.
Missouri ended the half with a 12-play, 64-yard drive that ended just shy of the end zone, but Harrison Mevis’ 18-yard field goal at the horn gave the Tigers a 10-3 lead.
Mizzou had a 21-play drive that chewed up most of the 3rd quarter, but Kentucky got a critical stop on 4th down to prevent points.
After Mizzou’s defense quickly forced a 3-and-out, the Tigers’ offense cashed in on a 6-play, 61-yard drive when Rountree scored again on a 1-yard rush to make it 17-3 with 45 seconds to play in the 3rd quarter.
Kentucky had the ball for barely two minutes of the 3rd quarter.
Kentucky finally got untracked with a 6-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open the 4th quarter, culminating in Terry Wilson hitting Josh Ali for a 26-yard touchdown to draw the Wildcats to within 17-10. Before that pass, Kentucky had passed for 9 yards in the game. It finished with 47 passing yards.
The two teams traded possessions, but Kentucky’s helpless passing game showed no ability to draw closer.
Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton had another big game, nearing double-digit tackles and adding a QB sack. Kentucky was led by Corker, who led UK in tackles and posted the third-quarter sack that held Mizzou (for the moment) within striking distance.
Mizzou posted its 2nd consecutive home win of the season, following its 45-41 triumph over LSU. The 2-2 Tigers will next take on Florida in the Swamp. At 2-3, Kentucky’s next game is a home matchup with Georgia.