Playing in its first overtime game since 2018, a missed PAT proved to be the final dagger for Kentucky, as Ole Miss stole a road win in the SEC with a 42-41 win over the Wildcats on Saturday at Kroger Field.
With the game tied at 35-all at the end of regulation, Kentucky drew first blood in OT as quarterback Terry Wilson scored on a 10-yard run to give the Cats a 41-35 lead. The point after attempt failed as kicker Matt Ruffolo finished 5-for-6 in PAT’s for the game.
Ole Miss, now 1-1 on the season, responded with a four-play scoring drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Corral to Elijah Moore to tie the game at 41. Luke Logan drilled his PAT through the uprights as the Rebels celebrated the come-from-behind victory. Kentucky’s last overtime game was a 20-14 loss at Texas A&M in 2018.
The Ole Miss victory marks the first win for Rebels Head Coach Lane Kiffin, who is back in the SEC after previously serving as the head coach at Tennessee in 2009.
Corral proved to be too much for a struggling UK defense, finishing 24-of-29 for 320 yards and four touchdowns. In two games, he has thrown for 715 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception in last week’s loss to Florida.
Kentucky’s run-first offense was outstanding against a weak Ole Miss defense, racking up 408 total rushing yards with Chris Rodriguez (133 yards), Terry Wilson (129) and A.J. Rose (117) all going over the 100-yard mark. Wilson scored two touchdowns on the ground and also finished 14-for-18 for 151 yards passing.
Ole Miss opened the game with a 75-yard scoring drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by Jerrion Ealy as it took the Rebels just eight plays over 2:22 minutes to get on the board for a quick 7-0 lead. On UK’s first possession, Rose broke loose for a 72-yard run and seemed headed for a wide-open end zone before getting caught from behind at the three-yard line. From the Wildcat formation, Rose then fumbled and Ole Miss took over on downs.
The Wildcats would ultimately get on the board at the 7:36 mark as Wilson scored on a 4-yard run to tie things at 7-7. Rose then redeemed himself, scoring from 2-yards out with 1:33 left in the opening quarter to give the Cats a 14-7 advantage.
In the second quarter, Corral connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Yeboah to tied things at 14-all with 13:19 left in the half. Kentucky would then capitalize on its best drive of the half, racking up 83 yards on nine plays to pull ahead 21-14 as Wilson scored again on a 22-yard run to close the half.
The Wildcats opened the third quarter with a 22-yard touchdown run from Rodriguez to extend the lead to 28-14 before Ole Miss stormed back to cut the lead to 28-21 after Corral needed just over a minute to connect on a 24-yard scoring strike to Jonathan Mingo.
On its next possession, the Rebels marched 67 yards to the Kentucky 1-yard line before getting turned back on 4th and goal to stop the momentum. However, Ole Miss would bounce back to tie the game at 28-all after Corral hit Mingo again with a 16-yard pass to start the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, each team scored on 1-yard runs - Snoop Conner scored for Ole Miss with 8:23 remaining and Rodriguez tied the game for the final time at 35-all with 2:04 left in the game to set up the overtime.
Rose, Wilson and Rodriguez are all solid candidates for the MVP award, but it’s the Big Blue Wall that gets the nod this week as UK’s offensive line of Drake Jackson, Landon Young, Darian Kinnard, Luke Fortner and Kenneth Horsey had their way with an Ole Miss defense that’s now given up 1,201 total yards in two weeks.
The O-Line opened up some hug gaps for Kentucky’s ground game and did everything possible to keep the chains moving forward. Like previous years with Lynn Bowden and Benny Snell dominating the run game, Stoops seems fully committed to a conservative game plan to eat some clock and take advantage of a talented backfield.
The big question is can UK’s offensive line unit maintain its dominant play against SEC powers Georgia and Alabama and can Wilson get into a rhythm in the pocket to provide some offensive balance in the passing attack during crunch time. The Wildcats will have to establish an effective passing game to right the ship this season.
Kentucky, 0-2, plays host to Mississippi State next week at Kroger Field.