STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Kylin Hill rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns to lead Mississippi State to a 28-13 victory over Kentucky on Saturday.
Mississippi State (3-1, 1-0 SEC) handed the ball to Hill, the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher 26 times in the game, taking some of the offensive pressure off freshman quarterback Garrett Schrader who started in place of injured senior Tommy Stevens, a Penn State transfer.
Shrader, who played the entire second half last week, threw for 180 yards and rushed for 125 yards in his first full game managing the offense.
Kentucky (2-2, 0-2 SEC) had 386 yards of total offense but found the end zone only once on a Kavosiey Smoke 2-yard run in the third quarter. Mississippi State consistently frustrated Mark Stoops’ team late in drives, and the Wildcats could convert on only two of their four field-goal attempts.
The defense set the tone early. On the game’s opening drive linebacker Willie Gay Jr. intercepted Sawyer Smith and returned the ball 53 yards for a touchdown. Gay and multiple other defensive starters have been suspended for much of the season due to a violation of team rules believed to be related to an academic dishonesty scandal that carries NCAA-mandated suspensions.
Gay was later ejected for receiving his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Hill punched in two touchdowns in the second quarter and Mississippi State led 21-3 at the half. The Bulldogs added Hill's 1-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Smith was 15-of-41 passing for 232 yards to lead Kentucky. Asim Rose rushed for 105 yards on nine carries.
Mississippi State: With a full complement of defensive talent and a rapidly-improving freshman quarterback, the Bulldogs looked like a completely different team than the one who lost at home last week to Kansas State.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have weapons enough to move the ball downfield, but penalties and poor pass protection stymied a number of promising drives.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs visit No. 8 Auburn on the Plains, where it has lost four of the teams' last five meetings.
Kentucky: The Wildcats travel to play South Carolina still searching for their first conference win.