UK escape Missouri with narrow win – Reuters Sports News

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UK escape Missouri with narrow victory

Posted at 4:52 p.m. on Monday, November 7, 2022

KEITH TAYLOR

kentucky today

Amid a contest in which the Kentucky and Missouri defenses flexed their muscles for most of the afternoon, it was a sloppy punt that proved the difference for the Wildcats by escaping with a 21-17 win over the Tigers on Saturday.

Incredibly, it was the Wildcats (6-3, 3-3 SEC) who took advantage of their own special team’s misfires, claiming a win that made them eligible for the bowl.

Lining up for a punt on fourth-and-4 from their own 41-yard line with 2:34 left, Kentucky long snapper Drew Perry navigated the snap over the head of punter Colin Goodfellow, who chased the loose ball to the 4-yard line. Goodfellow was able to drive up the field and throw the ball just as he was tackled by Missouri linebacker Will Norris.

A flag was immediately drawn and after a discussion, officials penalized Norris for roughing up the punter, determining that Goodfellow had remained in the tackle box and resuming a punt motion had maintained a punter’s protection. Goodfellow was injured on the play and was carried off the field.

The game allowed Kentucky to run all but 38 seconds.

“It was just outstanding play on his part,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “At first I was like, ‘Well, I wish he’d taken safety. But he made a remarkable game.

Tigers head coach Eli Drinkwitz disagreed with the explanation he received from officials but said the game was ultimately not what doomed the Tigers (4- 5, 2-4).

“How a guy can still be a protected punter 50 yards out in the field and how guys are supposed to know he can’t tackle him is beyond me,” Drinkwitz said, “But I’m sure I’ll get an explanation and I’m sure he’ll defend them, and we’ll go from there. It doesn’t change the fact that we were 2 out of 13 in third down.”

Third downs proved crucial for the Tigers on both sides of football. While Drinkwitz’s defense kept the Wildcats to just 242 offensive yards, yielding just 4.1 yards per play, quarterback Will Levis and the Kentucky offense converted 6 of 13 third downs, including reaching the end zone twice at the end.

After Kentucky held Missouri to 7 yards on the game’s first possession, Levis put the Wildcats on the board with an eight-play, 71-yard drive capped off with a 9-yard touchdown pass on third-and-out. goal to Dane Clé.

This largely marked the end of the attacking fireworks before both defenses asserted their dominance.

Missouri had just 76 rushing yards in the first half. Only a 44-yard field goal from Harrison Mevis put the Tigers on the scoreboard, and the Wildcats took a 7-3 locker room lead at halftime.

With no offense able to sustain the momentum, a special teams error helped the Wildcats extend their lead in the third quarter. Missouri punter Jack Stonehouse struggled to handle a low slam and tried but failed to rush for a first down.

The Wildcats rode Christopher Rodriguez, who finished with 112 yards on 29 carries, on five consecutive carries to the Missouri 19-yard line before Levis struck again on third down. Facing third-and-5, Levis connected with Tayvion Robinson for 18 yards. Two plays later, Levis found tight end Jordan Dingle for a 1-yard score to extend the lead to 14-3.

Tigers quarterback Brady Cook and the Missouri offense began to find their rhythm late in the third quarter. Cook led consecutive passes for 52 and 64 yards, completing 6 of 7 passes for 80 yards and rushing for two touchdowns. A two-point conversion shot from Cook at Tauskie Dove gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 17-14 with 8:07 remaining.

But Lévis and the Wildcats reacted. After a Missouri firecracker kickoff went bad, Kentucky began their next drive at their own 42. Levis took his team to the field in six plays, connecting again with Key on the third and the 11 to 22 meters for the winning score. .

Fighting through the adversity his team faced against Missouri will benefit the Wildcats in the long run, Stoops said.

“When you play this schedule and these teams and the grind that our players have in them, they want the results,” Stoop said. “We all do it, but you have to keep working.”

Missouri’s four losses in SEC play have come within a one-score margin. Drinkwitz feels both optimism and frustration with these results.

“It’s frustrating because we haven’t found the way or played to win but it’s obviously a sign of progress that we’re in the fight,” he said. “Now we have to find a way to win this fight.”

Goodfellow’s shrewd play to evade a punt after the failed punt came at a cost. Goodfellow remained on the field for several minutes, receiving the attention of athletic trainers before a trolley carried him off the field.

Kentucky returns home next Saturday hosting Vanderbilt in the SEC game. Missouri travels to Knoxville next Saturday to fight No. 1 Tennessee.

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