Losers of three straight, Kentucky Football was in desperate need of a win as they entered Starkville to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday night. They walked away not just breaking their current losing streak but also getting their first win in Starkville since 2008.
Out of the gates, Kentucky looked prepared on both sides of the ball. After forcing a Mississippi State three-and-out, Kentucky took advantage and went down the field to score first on a four-minute, eight-play drive. The passing game was featured heavily in the drive, with Leary throwing 5-6 for 53 yards, including two third-down conversions.
While things started quickly, the game took on a much slower pace when Mississippi State drove for a 12-minute, 20-play drive, which ended in just a field goal. With the help of a pick-six from Deryk Jackson and another quick touchdown, the Wildcats opened up a 21-3 lead at halftime. However, the pick-six may have come at a cost, as Darrion Henry-Young suffered a serious non-contact injury.
Coming out of halftime, neither team’s offense had much substance. Kentucky had the only drive to enter opponent territory, which they scored a field goal on to increase their lead 24-3. In the fourth quarter, it was much of the same, with neither team putting too much pressure on their opponent to score.
The biggest story of the second half was Devin Leary, who looked to have injured his throwing shoulder, which is also the side of the pec that he surgically repaired last year. Leary did return to the game for one play and threw it to a wide-open Dane Key for a touchdown until he dropped it.
While the exact injury or severity is not known, Leary was in and out of the injury tent twice before returning to the sideline, as Kaiya Sheron played the remainder of the game. With a matchup against Alabama next week, that is not promising.
Today’s MVP is Tayvion Robinson, who caught five passes for a total of 91 yards. While the offense wasn’t the most efficient tonight, the three big play connections between Leary and Robinson provided Kentucky with offense opportunities to score, which they capitalized on.
Robinson’s 91 receiving yards are his fourth most at Kentucky and his second most this season behind his six-catch, 136-yard performance against Akron.
The last time Kentucky played Mississippi State. pic.twitter.com/iwDteGJTnc— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) November 4, 2023
Thirty minutes out....⏳ pic.twitter.com/ePbROjKS7q— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 4, 2023
In our family, we watch Kentucky football on the side of a barn. pic.twitter.com/pNGJmb03vX— Tyler Bentley (@TylerBentley2) November 4, 2023
Great drive by Kentucky to start this game— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 4, 2023
D'Eryk Jackson pick six. Enormous change of momentum for Kentucky. He's in the right place at the right time, as usual.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) November 5, 2023
Thank you Mississippi State for a STUPID penalty. Play was way over, official giving him chance to get off field and he must have said the magic words to get flag and give Cats 15 yards— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) November 5, 2023
Outstanding response by the Cats after hitting some adversity tonight on that long MSU drive. Kinda the opposite of the effect that Mizzou fake punt had.— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) November 5, 2023
Kentucky finally gets a 2-minute stop in SEC. Tremendous complementary football in the 2Q.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) November 5, 2023
+Red zone stop forces State to kick a FG
+Pick-6 after a 3-and-out flips the game
+3-and-out leads to a 4-minute TD drive
+Stop to end the half
One of the best stretches of the season.
Halftime: Kentucky leads Mississippi State 21-3 pic.twitter.com/EeNfCPz5et— Wyatt Huff (@Wildcat_wave) November 5, 2023
Devin Leary is playing some football.— Adam Luckett (@AdamLuckettKSR) November 5, 2023
Devin Leary under pressure in the pocket. pic.twitter.com/JisoeaQI6e— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) November 5, 2023
Holy cow, that effort by Devin Leary. Got hurt, came back in, spun out of a certain sack, threw a dime to Dane Key in the back corner of the end zone — barely bobbled at the end, so no TD.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) November 5, 2023
Still, that was a helluva play. Kentucky tacks on a FG, leads 24-3.
6 got robbed!!!— Ryan Lemond (@ryanlemond) November 5, 2023
Devin Leary taking a beating. Blood dripping out of various places, got planted on his throwing shoulder and had to get it checked out.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) November 5, 2023
Kentucky got it on MSU’s side of the field and punting it. Mark Stoops has a three-TD lead and looks like he’s ready to commit murder.
END OF 3Q: Kentucky 24, Miss. State 3 pic.twitter.com/D7eF5LtgNU— Jeff Drummond (@JDrumUK) November 5, 2023
Let's finish this!— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 5, 2023
Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 3 (15:00 4Q) pic.twitter.com/65NWlSoISn
This may be one of the coldest pictures in Kentucky Football history pic.twitter.com/vUL7JCzMCu— Barstool Kentucky (@BarstoolUK) November 5, 2023
Kentucky needed this win…and to end the Starkville streak, which is nice even though this wasn’t a work of art— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 5, 2023
Awesome defensive performance
Leaving Starkville with the win. pic.twitter.com/gw69JKM6cr— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 5, 2023
Final | Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 3— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) November 5, 2023
Devin Leary: 13-22, 156 yds, 2 TD
Ray Davis: 21 rush, 80 yds
Tayvion Robinson: 5 rec, 91 yds
Dane Key: 4 rec, 36 yds, TD
Barion Brown: 4 rec, 24 yds; 22-yard rush
Demie Sumo-Karngbaye: 4-yard TD rec
D'Eryk Jackson: 26-yard INT return TD
UK is a good football team. Not great, but good.— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerRadio) November 5, 2023
If you’re an average team watch the F out.
Road win for the Cats pic.twitter.com/STu2eLiC1F— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) November 5, 2023