Dak Prescott's claim on Mississippi State's starting quarterback job continued to strengthen Thursday night as the versatile passer led a 28-22 win over visiting Kentucky for the Bulldogs' first Southeastern Conference win of the season.
Meanwhile, senior Tyler Russell, an NFL hopeful who entered the season as the starter, is seeing his role decrease.
Prescott completed 23 of 34 passes for 268 yards, a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions as MSU moved above the .500 mark (4-3). But it was the things he can do athletically that made a difference for MSU not only while Russell was out with a concussion earlier in the season, but on Thursday night as well. Prescott caught a 17-yard touchdown pass on some trickery, a second-half throwback play, for the game-winning touchdown. He also added 33 rushing yards, although he would have had 70 were it not for 37 yards of losses in sacks.
Russell, who threw for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdown passes last year for MSU, completed one of only two passes on the night. It wasn't a memorable night for MSU safety Nickoe Whitley, another of MSU's NFL hopefuls, either. Whitley was ejected near the end of the first half after two personal fouls in a four-play sequence, the second of which was for punching a UK player in a pileup.
Kentucky first-year defensive end Za'Darius Smith delivered two sack assists, giving him a team-high 5.5 for the season, and linebacker Avery Williamson contributed 10 tackles.