The Kentucky Wildcats five-year winning streak over the Missouri Tigers came to an end Saturday as they were defeated 20-10 at Faurot Field in Columbia, dropping UK to 2-3 on the season.
Here’s a recap of all the action:
Kentucky won the opening toss and elected to receive. The offense would get off to a rocky start as the Cats passed on three straight plays with Terry Wilson completing just 1-3 for six-yards to Josh Ali, forcing an opening drive punt.
Missouri’s offense began their day at their own 21-yard line after a 48-yard Max Duffy punt. Their drive got off to a hot start as Connor Bazelak connected with Damon Hazelton for 17-yards and a first down. Missouri would move to midfield three plays later as Bazelak ran for six yards on third down to move the Tigers to the 50-yard line. However, the drive would stall out as Jordan Wright stopped running back Tyler Badie for a four-yard loss to the Missouri 46-yard line on first down, putting Missouri behind the chains and eventually forcing a punt from former Wildcat Grant McKinnis.
The Wildcats began to establish their run game as A.J. Rose rushed twice for a combined nine-yards and Chris Rodriguez picked up a first down with a seven-yard run. However, that would be the lone first down of the drive as Kentucky would be forced to punt after Wilson threw incomplete on third and long from the UK 33-yard line.
Missouri would get off to a hot start on their ensuing possession as Bazelak connected with Niko Hea for six-yards and then ran for 13-yards on the next play to move the Tigers to the 50-yard line. The drive would not go much further, however, as they moved to just the UK 44-yard line before punting back to the Wildcats with 4:28 left in the quarter.
Kentucky would catch a break early in their ensuing possession as Wilson was dragged down by the face mask by Missouri’s Tyree Gillespie on a short second down run, moving UK up 15-yards to their own 27-yard line. That would be just about the only productive play of the drive as on third down, Wilson had trouble with a Drake Jackson snap and was stopped for a seven-yard loss after recovering his own fumble leading to another punt.
The Tigers’ next drive got off to another fast start as a Larry Rountree III run for 13-yards moved Mizzou to the UK 45-yard line. The first quarter would come to an end with Missouri facing a third down and 10 from the UK 45-yard line.
Score After First Quarter: Kentucky 0, Missouri, 0
Kentucky’s defense would force a fourth down after Badie was stopped five-yards short of the first on third down, but Eli Drinkwitz elected to go for it on fourth and converted as Bazelak connected with Hazelton for a 12-yard gain. Missouri’s offense would gain momentum after the conversion as Badie ran for 10-yards and Rountree ran for eight to move the Tigers to the UK 15-yard line. The Tigers would move to the one-yard after Bazelak hit Badie for 10-yards and two plays later, Missouri found pay dirt as Rountree scored from a yard out to put Mizzou on top 7-0.
On UK’s first drive of the second quarter, Mark Stoops elected to go with Joey Gatewood at quarterback. The drive started on the ground as Rose ran for 29-yards and a first down. UK would quickly move into Missouri territory after the Rose run as Rodriguez picked up four and Gatewood ran for eight-yards to the Tigers 35-yard line. The drive would stall at the 32-yard line, where Matt Ruffolo would put Kentucky on the board with a 50-yard field goal to cut the Missouri lead to 7-3.
On their ensuing possession, Missouri converted on an early third down as Bazelak connected with D’ionte Smith for 10-yards, but the drive would end four plays later as on third down from their own 48, Bazelak was forced to throw the ball away, forcing a punt.
With just under three minutes left in the quarter, Missouri’s offense began to build momentum on their ensuing possession as Bazelak connected with Hea twice for a combined 23-yards moving the Tigers to the UK 39-yard line. Later in the drive, Missouri would move to the UK 13-yard line as Bazelak found Keke Chism for 24-yards. Two plays later, Rountree would move Missouri to the Kentucky one-yard line, but on second and goal with just eight seconds in the half Bazelak threw incomplete, forcing the Tigers to settle for an 18-yard Harrison Mevis field goal to extend the lead to 10-3.
Halftime Score: Missouri 10, Kentucky, 3
Missouri opened the second half by getting wideout Jalen Knox involved as Bazelak connected with the junior on back-to-back plays for a combined 19-yards to pick up a first down. They’d move into UK territory three lays later as Bazelak again found Knox for 10-yards on third down for a conversion. Later in the drive, Missouri opted to go for it on fourth and three from the UK 43-yard line. The decision would pay off as Bazelak found Knox for four-yards and a first down. Just four plays later, Missouri again opted to go for it on fourth down and again would convert as Bazelak hit Tauskie Dove for a seven-yard gain. The Tigers would move to the UK seven-yard line, where the Tigers again decided to for it on fourth down. This time, Kentucky’s defense stepped up as Yusuf Corker stopped Bazelak for a two-yard loss to force a turnover on downs. The Missouri drive lasted 21 plays and 9:35 but resulted in no points giving UK momentum.
After the long Missouri drive, Stoops went back to Wilson at quarterback on Kentucky’s first drive of the half. The move would not pay off during the drive as the Wildcats again went three and out forcing a tired defense back onto the field.
The Tigers ensuing drive started with a bang as Bazelak connected with Knox for 27-yards, which was followed by an 18-yard Rountree run moving Missouri to the UK 16-yard line. Four plays later, Missouri found the end zone as Rountree scored from a yard out to push the Tigers lead to 17-3.
Kentucky’s next drive finally got a big play to open their next drive as Rodriguez ripped off a 17-yard run. On the next play, UK was gifted 15-yards as Ennis Rakestraw was called for a personal foul, moving the ball to the Missouri 36-yard line on what would be the final play of the quarter.
Score After Third Quarter: Missouri 17, Kentucky, 3
Kentucky was able to pick up a first down on the third play of the quarter as Rodriguez ran for one-yard on third and one moving UK to the Missouri 26-yard line. On the very next play, the Wildcats finally found the end zone as Wilson delivered a perfect 26-yard pass to Ali in the end zone to cut the Missouri lead to 17-10.
The Kentucky defense was able to make a massive stop on Missouri’s ensuing possession as they forced a three and out and Tigers punt.
UK’s offense would be unable to back up their defense’s efforts as they went three and out themselves, punting the ball back to the Tigers with 10:11 left to play.
Missouri’s offense was able to get back in a rhythm on their ensuing possession as on third down, Bazelak ran for eight yards and had 10-yards tacked onto the end of the play after Cedrick Dort was flagged for holding. From there, the Tigers were able to both chew clock and move down the field as Missouri ran the ball six times with carriers from Bazelak, Rountree and Badie to move the ball to the UK 3-yard line. With 3:10 to go, the Tigers extended their lead as Mevis connected on a 20-yard field goal to put Missouri up 20-10.
Looking for a miracle, Kentucky went back to Gatewood at quarterback. Gatewood would find Ali for 11-yards but before going down, Joshuah Bledsoe forced a fumble and recovered it to turn the Wildcats over.
With 1:20 to play, Missouri again elected to go for it on fourth down, where Badie was able to run for a first, putting a nail in the Kentucky coffin.
Final Score: Missouri 20, Kentucky, 10
MVP: Larry Rountree III
Kentucky did not have many answers for Missouri senior running back Larry Rountree III. Rountree ran for 126 yards on 37 attempts and scored two touchdowns to lead his Tigers to victory.
HONORABLE MENTION: Connor Bazelak
Ex Kentucky recruit Connor Bazelak burned the team that tried hard to land him as he completed 21-30 of his passes for 201 yards and did not turn the ball over against a Kentucky team that had grabbed nine interceptions in the two games combined before Saturday’s matchup.