LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The injuries keep piling up for Kentucky.
So do the losses, the latest of which was Saturday's 27-14 defeat to No. 20 Mississippi State.
The Wildcats (1-5, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) dropped their fourth straight game and couldn't keep up with the Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0). They were outgained 427-228.
Then there were the injuries, the biggest of which was to freshman quarterback Patrick Towles. His sprained ankle late in the second quarter derailed Kentucky's goal of alternating him with fellow freshman Jalen Whitlow and left the Wildcats hoping that he wouldn't be next.
"I had told (Towles) all week that if he didn't make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hand, he might get his get his leg broke," offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. "He got caught holding onto the ball."
The Wildcats also lost defensive backs Martavius Neloms (hamstring) and Ashely Lowery (concussion-like symptoms).
Kentucky's only upside was that both led scoring drives. Whitlow finished 10-of-21 passing for 73 yards, adding 26 rushing yards on eight carries. Towles was 5 of 6 for 71 yards.
"Injuries continue to mount and we continue to get younger and younger," coach Joker Phillips said. "It's not an excuse. It's just facts and we've got to get these guys better."
Even with them, Kentucky had a hard time keeping pace with Mississippi State.
Tyler Russell passed for two touchdowns, LaDarius Perkins carried 25 times for 110 yards, including a 31-yard score, and Devon Bell kicked field goals of 20 and 37 yards as Mississippi State moved to 5-0 for the first time since 1999. The Bulldogs are 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
Russell was 23 of 39 for 269 yards, hitting Adrian Marcus and Chad Bumphis for touchdowns of 10 and 27 yards, respectively.
"We lost our focus a couple of times with a couple of people, but overall I'm real pleased," Mullen said. "I think our defense played very well over the course of the game.
"I would've liked a couple more scores."
Mississippi State finished with 158 rushing yards and 427 overall, splitting its 78 plays evenly running and passing.
But it was all about the Bulldogs, who showed no rust from a week off. The defense posted its second-fewest yards this season, just 12 more than it allowed in a 28-10 victory over Auburn last month.
The offense started deliberately in taking the opening kickoff and driving 85 yards in 13 plays. Russell's mix of quick slants and short out patterns accounted for 57 yards on 6-of-8 passing, including a screen pass to Marcus for the first score.
Marcus was helped by a collision between Kentucky defensive end Taylor Wyndham and safety Martavius Neloms as they appeared to have him hemmed up in the backfield. That cleared his path to the end zone.
The Bulldogs had an easier time taking a 14-0 lead, moving 61 yards in six plays with little resistance from the Wildcats, especially on the final two snaps. After Russell's fourth-down run for 4 yards to Kentucky's 31, Perkins broke through the right side virtually untouched for his sixth touchdown this season.
Kentucky stumbled to consecutive 3-and-outs totaling 3 yards with Whitlow starting at quarterback. The Wildcats had suggested alternating him and Towles from play to play, but the switch didn't happen until the third possession.
Towles entered the game to cheers, and he drew even more in leading a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
The highly touted freshman was 5 of 5 for 71 yards, completing it with a 32-yard TD pass to wide-open La'Rod King. But the Wildcats couldn't sustain anything else, and Towles sprained his ankle on a second-quarter sack and did not return.
Bell's field goals made it 20-7 for Mississippi State, which outgained Kentucky 172-17 in the first quarter and 278-90 for the half. The Bulldogs' first two plays of the second half culminated in a 27-7 lead as Russell found Bumphis for his second TD pass, a 40-yard drive helped by defensive holding on Wildcats cornerback Cartier Rice.
Whitlow returned to help lead Kentucky back within 27-14, finishing a 46-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
"There were a couple of good thing, but too many bad things," Whitlow said. "Can't have too many bad things. I left a lot of plays out on the field today."