Mississippi State Knocks Off No. 12 Kentucky, 31-17, Behind Record Performance by QB Will Rogers

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Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers broke the SEC mark for completion percentage by hitting 36 of 39 passes for 92 percent as the Bulldogs held off 2.5-point favorite and No. 12 Kentucky, 31-17, in Starkville, Mississippi, on Saturday night.

Rogers threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Rara Thomas for a 31-10 lead late in the third quarter as the Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2 SEC) coasted after taking a 14-10 lead at the half.

“Who wouldn’t want to be Will Rogers for Halloween,” Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said after the game on the SEC Network following a week of Halloween candy discussion.

Rogers was throwing passes around like so many pieces of Leach’s hated candy corn or turkey bacon.

“He had some help,” Leach said. “We were lucky enough to get them a little off balance. We felt like they were going to have to drop some people to cover the pass. We mixed it up. I thought we protected pretty good. The receivers bounced around and did a good job.”

Mississippi State tailback Dillon Johnson scored on a 9-yard run for the 14-10 halftime lead. He finished with 41 yards on 11 carries and added a 1-yard touchdown with 4:44 to go in the third quarter for a 24-10 lead.

Mississippi State outgained Kentucky (6-2, 4-2 SEC) 438 yards to 216 and had 27 first downs to 14.

Kentucky fell to 0-14 on the road in the SEC West with its last win at Auburn in 2009. The Wildcats lost for the sixth straight time at Mississippi State with their last win in Starkville in 2008.

It was Mississippi State’s first home win over an Associated Press top 25 team since 2018 when it beat No. 16 Texas A&M, 28-13.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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