(AP) Mauk leads No. 9 Missouri past Kentucky, 48-17
By GARY B. GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Maty Mauk threw five touchdown passes, four to Dorial Green-Beckham, and No. 9 Missouri cruised past Kentucky 48-17 on Saturday.
Making his fourth consecutive start in place of the injured James Franklin, the Tigers’ redshirt freshman completed 17 of 28 attempts for 203 yards and took full advantage of 6-foot-6 sophomore Green-Beckham, whose TD receptions set a school record.
Mauk added a 6-yard scoring pass to Henry Josey, who also rushed for two TDs, including an 86-yarder.
Missouri (9-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) allowed Kentucky (2-7, 0-5) two touchdowns in the third quarter but the Mauk-to-Green-Beckham connection answered both scores with TDs.
The victory helped the Tigers stay a half-game ahead of idle South Carolina (5-2) atop the East division heading into their second bye and gave coach Gary Pinkel his fourth nine-win season in 13 years with Missouri.
Missouri outgained Kentucky just 426-369, but its defense recorded seven sacks and recovered a fumble in handing the Wildcats their 13th straight SEC loss.
Kentucky’s only consolation were scores on the opening possessions of both halves. Joe Mansour kicked a 21-yard field goal in the first quarter, while quarterback Jalen Whitlow ran for a 1-yard TD to start the second half.
Raymond Sanders’ 1-yard TD run brought the Wildcats within 35-17, but the Tigers tacked on two more TDs to cap a day in which they scored four consecutive times in the first half and three times in the second.
Missouri came in with one of the SEC’s top offenses, averaging 500 yards and nearly 41 points per game. The Tigers were coming off a 502-yard effort in last week’s 31-3 rout of Tennessee, when Mauk ran and passed for more than 100 yards each and threw for three TDs.
Mauk ended up matching his season TD total in one game before giving way to Franklin in the fourth quarter, his first action since injuring his shoulder against Georgia.
Green-Beckham had the biggest day, catching seven passes for 100 yards. Josey, meanwhile, finished with 113 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Dominant as the Tigers were, their timing seemed off during the first two series after the early start. But then they caught a huge break when Kentucky punter Landon Foster shanked a 13-yard kick to the Wildcats 39.
Back-to-back runs of 6 and 27 yards by Marcus Murphy moved the Tigers to Kentucky’s 8 and set up Mauk’s floater in the left corner of the end zone, where Green-Beckham effortlessly went up over 6-foot cornerback Nate Willis to snag the touchdown pass.
Missouri special teamer Levi Copeland made Foster’s day even worse on the next drive by blocking his attempted punt inside the 10. It was recovered by the punter at the 4. Josey ran it in on the next play, and just like that the Tigers were up 14-3.
The Tigers’ next touchdown was nearly identical to the first, as Green-Beckham out-jumped Willis again on the left side of the other end zone for a 7-yard score to cap the Tigers’ first sustained drive, 67 yards and 10 plays.
Missouri was just as methodical on its final scoring drive of the half. The Tigers went 87 yards and 15 plays and ended with Mauk’s 6-yard pass to Josey, who stretched to hit the pylon as he was knocked out of bounds.
Kentucky controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes, but it didn’t matter as Missouri scored quickly in bunches.