The Kentucky Wildcats handed Missouri its fourth consecutive loss Saturday night with a 40-34 win in Lexington. (University pf Kentucky)

By Spencer Gleason


The Missouri Tigers may have ended Saturday night’s game against the Kentucky Wildcats on the wrong side of a 40-34 final. But the Tigers never stopped fighting.

Missouri was in search of its first road win since week two of the 2015 season and their first SEC road victory since November 2014, as they traveled to Lexington, Ky., for their first game as a visiting team this year.

Following a bye week, the Tigers were using the opportunity to hit the reset button on their season after three consecutive lopsided losses.

But Missouri fell behind early in the first quarter after quarterback Drew Lock had the ball pop out after he was sacked by Kentucky’s Josh Allen. The Wildcats recovered and score a touchdown three plays later when quarterback Steven Johnson found Blake Bone for a 14-yard completion in the end zone.

Two Wildcat field goals increased the lead to 13-0 with 9:41 left in the second quarter. For Missouri, being down early has been all too familiar. They had been outscored 130-20 since leading 10-0 against South Carolina in week two.

But that is when the Tigers began to claw back.

Midway through the second quarter, Lock connected with J’Mon Moore for a 50-yard touchdown reception. It was the senior wide receiver’s fourth play for 50-plus yards this season. And it was the first of what would turn out to be Missouri’s first-of-three touchdowns of 50-plus yards in the game.

Lock found Emanuel Hall for a 58-yard touchdown just before the half to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 20-14 heading into the intermission. In the fourth quarter, Lock and Johnathon Johnson teamed up for a 75-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 34 apiece.

Only a pair of field goals by Kentucky’s Austin MacGinnis and an incomplete shot at the end zone in the final seconds by Missouri provided the difference in the outcome.

Lock finished 22-for-42 for 355 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran the ball in for a touchdown – Missouri’s first rushing touchdown since week one against Missouri State.

As a team, Missouri compiled more total yards (568), more passing yards (355), more rushing yards (213) and more first downs (24) than the Wildcats. But they also had more penalties, getting called for seven flags for 55 yards. And they lost the turnover battle, 2-to-1, with both turnovers leading to points for Kentucky.

Kentucky had its share of explosive plays, as well. Wildcats’ running back Benny Snell Jr. had a 71-yard rushing touchdown and finished the day with 20 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Kentucky also had a 61-yard touchdown reception.

With the loss, Missouri dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in SEC competition. They will try to break their four-game losing streak next Saturday when go back on the road to play Georgia in Athens, Ga.