September 23, 2018 12:06:33 AM
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Benny Snell Jr. was arguably the most jarring part of Kentucky's meltdown against Mississippi State a year ago. The Wildcat's proven running back, All-Southeastern Conference honoree, was held to 18 yards on seven carries in a blowout loss.
Before his chance for vengeance, he made headlines by saying he can run on anyone, the obvious message he feels the same applies to No. 14 MSU's then top 15 run defense.
Not only did Snell Jr. run on MSU's defense, he became Kentucky's career touchdowns leader on MSU's defense.
Snell Jr.'s 165 yards and four touchdowns were more than enough to hand MSU (3-1) its first loss, 28-7 on Saturday.
"Great back. Having seen all the comments before the game and all that, to me, he backed it up," Macon native defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons said. "We let the defense down. That's not our type of play, but he's a great back. He said he was going to run on us and he had four touchdowns himself. It don't get no better than that. We have to play the run better."
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops added, "He'll be the first one to credit the physicality of the offensive line but he has a determination about him and a toughness and vision. He doesn't surprise me once again because he's a dominant football player and he deserves the credit that he gets as well."
Snell generated the explosive plays MSU so covets, running for touchdowns of 36 and 23 yards, plus runs of 22 and 20 yards.
As MSU coach Joe Moorhead put it simply, "He backed it up."
Last chance gone by
Kentucky's game-tying touchdown with 41 seconds left in the second quarter was no guarantee the game would go to halftime that way. MSU had all three timeouts and 41 seconds on the clock to possibly reach field goal range, if not the end zone.
The possession started with an eight-yard completion to Osirus Mitchell; no timeout was called. MSU got the first down on the next play and called timeout, but not until just 12 seconds were left on the clock, effectively ending MSU's hopes of scoring on the possession.
"We were trying to run a quick one there and use a timeout. Let a little bit too much time run down there," Moorhead said.
MSU has stood with starting punter Tucker Day through three games, albeit inactive games with just five punts attempted. After three attempts, MSU turned to backup Kody Schexnayder for one attempt, of 36 yards, before going back to Day for the final four.
"The operation was good, the protection was good, didn't have much pressure but we were looking for more distance," Moorhead said. "We'll continue that competition and put the guy on the field that gives us the best chance to win."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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