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Wildcats run over Tigers at Columbia

The Wildcats rushed for a season-high 377 yards in their win over the Tigers.

Benjamin Snell Jr. (26) celebrates during Kentucky’s win over Missouri Saturday afternoon.
Lexington Herald-Leader

Missing a field goal to start a road game is considered the wrong thing to do when facing a South Eastern Conference football team. Kentucky happened to be in this situation, at Missouri, by missing a 47-yard field goal on the first drive of the game. The team responded, however, by outscoring the Tigers 35-21 to win their third consecutive SEC game and fourth of their last five overall. For what started as an 0-2 start in the third season of the Mark Stoops era, the Wildcats have won five of their last six games and are one win away from bowl eligibility.

Following the missed field goal, Kentucky’s defense forced a punt that lead to their first touchdown drive of the game. Starting on their own 20-yard line, the Wildcats ran four plays for 80 yards to get the score, with Stanley "Boom" Williams busting a 60-yard run for the touchdown.

Leading 7-0, Kentucky’s defense forced another punt via 3 & out. They would fumble, however, and give the ball back to Missouri. Three drives then pasted by, all resulting in punts.

The Wildcats then pulled off another 80-yard touchdown drive, this time running five plays to reach the end zone. Stephen Johnson’s 65-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Badet put Kentucky up 14-0.

Following yet another forced punt by the defense, Kentucky’s rushing attack lead an 8-play 73-yard touchdown drive to put the Wildcats up 21-0. Williams rushed for 31 yards on three carries, while Benjamin Snell Jr. added eight yards on three more carries and the touchdown.

Kentucky then went into halftime up 21-7 after allowing Missouri to score a touchdown in the closing minutes.

Missouri started the second half just as Kentucky had started the first. The Tigers missed a 24-yard field goal to turn it over on downs. Kentucky then drove the ball 80 yards on 12 plays for their fourth touchdown of the game. The score came via another Stephen Johnson pass, however running back Boom Williams caught the ball in the flat and knifed up the middle for thirteen yards and into the end zone.

Leading 28-7, Kentucky forced another punt. After starting their drive at their 20-yard line, they did all of their work on the ground. Running backs Williams and Snell combined for 80 rushing yards to then find the end zone. The touchdown was Snell’s second of the game and Kentucky’s fifth.

The Wildcats later gave up two garbage-time touchdowns, but managed to win convincingly 35-21.

Johnson completed 14/23 passes for 208 and two touchdowns. He managed just one interceptions against a Tigers secondary who has corralled an SEC-best 11.

Jeff Badet continued to display his chemistry with Johnson, catching three balls for 104 yards and a touchdown. Williams caught Johnson’s other touchdown pass, going for 13 yards.

Kentucky’s most dominant phase on Saturday, however, was their rushing attack. Snell totaled 32 carries for 192 yards and two scores, while Williams added 19 carries for 182 yards and a score.

The rushing attack has taken a stand with Stephen Johnson under center. Since his emergence as the starting quarterback, the Wildcats are averaging 237 yards on the ground.

Kentucky’s defense was also a factor in Saturday’s win. Barring the two late touchdowns, they held Missouri’s high-paced offense to just seven points.

The defense and rushing attack meshed well, allowing Kentucky to nearly double the time of possession 39:36 vs. 20:24.

The Wildcats will face Nick Chubb and Georgia at Commonwealth Stadium next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT. One win away from bowl eligibility, the Cats have three games left to get the job done.