Mistake-prone Wildcats struggle against LSU ground game in 41-3 loss to the Tigers



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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — What should have been a trivial squib kick shortly before halftime became a symbol of Kentucky's continued misery in Death Valley.

The ball bounced away from nearly every Wildcat player on the field before LSU's Lewis Neal recovered at the Kentucky 37, setting up the Tigers' fifth score of the half.

The Wildcats (5-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference), who came to LSU (6-2, 2-2) intent on establishing themselves as a credible threat in the SEC East race, never recovered in a 41-3 loss to the Tigers on Saturday night.

"That was very disappointing because we had just told them about how LSU was backed up and we thought they may squib it," Kentucky Head Coach Mike Stoops said. "We just had our players make a poor decision and didn't make the play. That's unacceptable."

Terrance Magee amassed a career-high 220 all-purpose yards and rushed for two touchdowns, Tre'Davious White scored on a 67-yard punt return for LSU.

Travin Dural caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Jennings and Leonard Fournette added a short scoring run for the Tigers, who raced to a 27-3 halftime lead.

The Wildcats entered the game with arguably more at stake than LSU, only to be handed their fourth lopsided loss in as many trips to Death Valley since 2000. The combined score of those four games: 159-10.

"Nobody likes to lose that way, to be really physically handled," Stoops said. "That is what sticks out to me. Along with our mistakes. We need to coach better, I take responsibility for that.

"We can't let one game define us. We always talk about win or lose you have got to move on," added Stoops, whose team hosts No. 1 Mississippi State next weekend.

Kentucky also saw freshman running back Stanley "Boom" Williams, their all-purpose yards leader, knocked from the game on a helmet-to-helmet hit during a kickoff return.

"We will see how he recovers," Stoops said. "He's OK to fly home. We have the protocol and he went through it. They evaluated him on the field. He's with the doctors and I just have been told it is a head injury."

The Tigers ran the ball 51 times for 303 yards and outgained the Wildcats 423-217. Jennings attempted only 14 passes, hitting seven for 120 yards, and did not turn the ball over.

"That is what we would like to look like some day," Stoops said of the LSU offense. "They are extremely long and very physical."

"They do an excellent job across the board," Stoops added. "They do an excellent job coaching and recruiting. Their players play well and they play tough."

Patrick Towles completed 19 of 36 passes for 146 yards and Austin MacGinnis kicked a 33-yard field goal for Kentucky.

"Of course it is frustrating to not convert that because you want to be able to score as many points as you can," Towles said. "When you don't it's not good. We just got outplayed. You can get humbled quick in this league like we just were."

LSU raced to a three-score lead on the strength of its return game and a pair of strong defensive series.

Magee brought back the opening kickoff 49 yards to the UK 44, and a facemask penalty gave the Tigers starting field position on the Kentucky 29. A roughing-the-passer penalty on what would have been LSU's only pass attempt of the drive moved the ball to the 14. Fournette's 1-yard touchdown came soon after.

The Wildcats threatened to trim their deficit further in the second quarter, but LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter and Adams stuffed Jojo Kemp's run out of the 'wildcat' formation on fourth-and-2 from the Tigers 29.

"I thought that was the turning point," Stoops said. "Things broke open a little bit from there."

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