The Kentucky Wildcats wanted to run away with a win. Instead, it turned into a nitty gritty fight to the finish. Ultimately, the Wildcats prevailed with a 35-28 win at Kroger Field.
Wan’Dale Robinson was magnificent, Chris Rodriguez put on a show, but costly Kentucky turnovers and a pesky Connor Bazelak kept the Tigers alive until there were less than two minutes remaining. Kentucky received revenge from the 2020 loss with a hard fought victory, setting up a what could be a special season in the Bluegrass.
On the second play of the game Wan’Dale Robinson took a jet sweep 64 yards into Missouri territory. The quick strike set up a pitch and catch touchdown to Chris Rodriguez, the first of four touchdowns on the day for the UK running back. He finished the night with 207 rushing yards.
The Wildcats scored on three of the first four possessions to take a 21-7 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Liam Coen and Will Levis were on top of the world. With eight minutes left until halftime, Mark Stoops handed Chris Rodriguez a dagger. The Wildcats ran it right through the heart of the Mizzou defense. Unfortunately, the dagger slipped right through Rodriguez’s fingertips.
Prepared to score his fourth touchdown of the half, C-Rod lowered his shoulder at the two. Missouri’s Jaylon Carlies’ shoulder went directly into the ball, popping it free.
The Tigers’ offense promptly marched down the field in 1:41 and scored a touchdown. Instead of taking a 28-7 lead, UK limped into halftime up 21-7, giving Missouri all of the momentum.
Missouri’s offense was once again aggravating on third down. The Tigers converted 8-of-15 third down attempts, keeping the Kentucky defense on the field for extended drives. The Wildcats struggled to get pressure at all behind the line of scrimmage.
To create havoc, Kentucky needed someone to step up. That person was Jacquez Jones. The Ole Miss transfer made an incredible interception on Missouri’s opening second half drive, setting up a Kentucky score and retaking momentum.
Three Game-Changing Fourth Quarter Plays
The Wildcats did not record a tackle for loss until they needed it the most. After an encroachment penalty, Mizzou faced a third and one near midfield. Brad White dialed up a cornerback blitz that got home, forcing Missouri to punt.
Even though Rodriguez was running harder, Kentucky got behind the chains on the following drive. Facing a third and 12, Levis pulled the pin and let the ball fly down the sideline to Wan’Dale Robinson. He dropped the ball right into a bucket for a 33-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
Kentucky milked the clock down to 2:15 before attempting a 37-yard field goal. Instead of taking a 10-point lead, Blaze Allredge blocked the kick, giving Mizzou life.
The Final Stop
Missouri looked poised and prepared to drive down the field and tie the ballgame. J.J. Weaver had different plans. On third and short Weaver came clean off the edge and delivered a sack to Connor Bazelak. Trevin Wallace applied pressure, the 4th and 13 pass was tipped and fell to the turf.