By Ricky Blair – Lexington, Kentucky – Late 4th quarter touchdown drive secures Kentucky’s 21-13 win over the #23 nationally ranked Missouri Tigers.
After the “Saturday to forget” a week ago in the loss to the Florida Gators, both UK junior quarterback Patrick Towles and sophomore wide receiver Dorian Baker had redemption games against the Tigers. With a combined effort on the game winning-score, Towles found Baker in the back of endzone for a five-yard touchdown that extended the UK lead to 21-10 with only 6:20 left in the game. Missouri did come back with a field goal with three minutes to go in the game, but hard running by back-up junior running back Jojo Kemp allowed the Wildcats to run out the clock and secure the victory.
Towles and Baker had miscues against Florida, which contributed in a loss that should have been a win. But on this Saturday, the two not only connected on the final touchdown, but also on a huge play that kept the final scoring drive alive. Facing a 3rd down and five from their own 46-yard line, Towles threw a 25-yard pass down the right sideline to Baker, who pulled it in one-handed as he was falling out of bounds. The catch gave UK a first down, kept the drive alive, and put the Cats in scoring range. It was an incredible play.
Towles had a great night. He completed 22 of his 27 pass attempts, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. The running touchdown came in the first quarter with the Wildcats facing a 3rd down and nine on the Missouri 14-yard line. Towles went back to pass, but the pocket collapsed and he had to improvise, scrambling first to the right before cutting back to the left and running 14 yards into the endzone. It was another huge play, which at the time tied the score at 7-7.
The defense also deserves a lot of credit for the win. Defensive tackle Cory Johnson, who was starting in place of the injured Reggie Meant, led the Wildcats in tackles with 11. Linebackers Josh Forrest, Ryan Flannigan, and Jason Hatcher had 9, 8 and 8 tackles respectively. Hatcher’s eight tackles were a career high for him. The Cats’ defense kept the Tigers out of the endzone after the first quarter, which was a key factor in the win.
The victory over Missouri was the first over a top 25-ranked opponent since the Wildcats victory over #10 South Carolina in 2010. It is also the first victory over Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012. The over-all series is now tied at 3-3.
Kentucky is 3-1 on the season and 2-1 in the SEC. Next, the Wildcats will be in action on Saturday, October 3rd against Eastern Kentucky University.