Cats fumble, stumble to loss: MSU 31 UK 14

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky put the ball on the ground four times, losing three fumbles, and threw three more inteceptions in route to a 31-14 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The loss drops the Cats to 6-3 (2-3) on the season, while the Bulldogs move to 5-4 (2-3) with the win.

The score wasn't close, and the game was never really in doubt. Mississippi State took the opening kickoff 80 yards in 14 plays for a 7-0 lead, and although Kentucky matched the score on their possession, the Bulldogs topped the Cats with a 17-play, 80 yard drive on possession number two for a lead they would never relinquish.

The Cats appeared to be out of sync early and often. "We weren't focused and physical on defense," Coach Rich Brooks lamented. "We didn't protect the quarterback well enough, we didn't block well enough, and we didn't hold onto the ball."

Nine times during the game the ball was placed on the field, with Mississippi State fumbling five times--but recovering four, and Kentucky fumbling four times--and losing three. Capturing seven of the nine fumbles was just one more indication of the Bulldogs dominance of the ballgame. Andre Woodson also threw three second-half interceptions in the contest.

The game wasn't just errors, though. The line of scrimmage was dominated on both sides of the ball by Sylvester Croom's Bulldogs. Mississippi State held the Cats to under 100 yards rushing, while the Bulldogs rushed for 200 yards on the day. Kentucky converted only one of five fourth down attempts in the game.

"We got hit in the mouth. We didn't do the hitting in the mouth. We got hit in the mouth, and allowed it to continue," Brooks said. Taking responsibility for the loss without excuses, Brooks continued, "I let these players down. I didn't get it done. I didn't get them ready.

"We didn't get ready to play like we need to. They took the fight to us. We kept giving them every reason to do that. This was just a very poor effort overall, and I'm responsible for that."

After nine consecutive weeks of playing, including three losses in the last four games, Kentucky receives a badly-needed bye next week before returning to play in two weeks against Vanderbilt. Mississippi State will also receive a bye next week before facing Alabama in two weeks.

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