Two out of three isn't good enough for State
By By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
Nov. 2, 2002
STARKVILLE Two out of three may not be bad, but Saturday afternoon going two for three cost the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs got solid offense and defense, but MSU lacked special teams' play. Kentucky Wildcats used solid special teams to take control of a close game on their way to a 45-24 victory.
The specials teams' play started out bad for Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs were able to hang on in the first half.
The troubled started when the Bulldogs went for a fake punt from their own 25-yard line. Punter Robert Wallis tried to hit Derrick Crockett with a pass, but the ball fell harmlessly and the Wildcats took over with good field position. The field position led to a Kentucky field goal to make the score 10-0.
The Bulldogs were able to fight back to take a lead and special team's about gave the lead back to the Wildcats. Dustin Williams blocked a punt at the Bulldog 33-yard line to give Kentucky more good field position. This time the Wildcats were unable to do anything with the field position and the Bulldogs went in to the locker room up one.
The score in the second half was not so pretty for the Bulldogs, however, as the Wildcats took over the game in the third quarter.
It was red-shirt junior Derek Abney that supplied the spark for the Wildcats and he lit the fire with special teams play.
Aaron Boone got a piece of a Bulldog punt, causing the ball to have less hangtime. Abney took the punt at his own 31-yard line and used a great move on the coverage to take the ball 69 yards for a touchdown.
MSU didn't kick away from Abney later in the quarter and Abney took a another punt back. His 52-yard touchdown return put the Bulldogs down 37-27. The punt return for a touchdown was his fourth of the season, breaking the Kentucky and SEC single-season record.
Abney also finished the game with two catches for 34 yards.
Abney tied the NCAA single-season record for kicks returned for touchdowns in the game. He has taken back four punts and a kickoff this season. The Bulldogs knew Abney was dangerous coming into the game, but did not execute against him.
The lack of execution allowed Kentucky to take the momentum away from the Bulldogs and, more importantly, the Wildcats were able to take the game away from MSU.