OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Austin Keys and Jared Ivey each forced fumbles in the final three minutes, both inside the red zone, and No. 14 Mississippi held off No. 7 Kentucky 22-19 on Saturday.
Keys and Ivey forced Wildcats quarterback Will Levis to fumble on consecutive possessions with AJ Finley and Tavius Robinson recovering both, respectively. Both plays stopped potential game-winning drives inside the 20 to preserve the victory for the Rebels (5-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference).
Jonathan Cruz’s go-ahead, 26-yard field goal late in the third quarter put Ole Miss up 22-19 and set the stage for the tense, frantic finish. The Rebels’ defense first forced the Wildcats to turn over the ball over on downs early in the fourth before creating the turnovers to seal the win.
Levis led Kentucky (4-0, 1-1) to the Ole Miss 18 before fumbling while diving for additional yardage. The Wildcats created a final opportunity on Levis 51-yard pass to Barion Brown to the 7. After a touchdown-nullifying illegal motion penalty, Levis fumbled on the next play on a sack by Ivey with 58 seconds remaining.
Kentucky: The Wildcats failed on two extra points, a wide-left 39-yard field goal attempt in the first half and an illegal motion penalty that wiped out a potential game-winning TD pass in the final minute – and that was the difference in a close game. The win snapped an eight-game winning streak that spanned two seasons.
Mississippi: The Rebels survived a competition upgrade after blowing through a softer-than-expected September schedule. Ole Miss is 16-3 over two seasons and positioned itself to be the best team in the SEC other than top-ranked Georgia or No. 2 Alabama. The Rebels are 5-0 for the first time since 2014.
Despite a steady ascent, the No. 14 Rebels trailed 11 other ranked unbeaten teams. Defeating the No. 7 Wildcats boosted Ole Miss’ prospects for a Top-10 slot. The Wildcats had a creditable road performance and figure to remain ranked despite the loss.
Kentucky: The Wildcats begin a two-week home stand with South Carolina on Saturday.
Mississippi: The Rebels visit Vanderbilt on Saturday.
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