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Green-Beckham helps Mizzou get jump on Kentucky

The SportsXchange

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri said he thought Kentucky had a plan to stop him. That plan did not work.

Green-Beckham set a Missouri record by making four touchdown receptions on Saturday and the No. 8 Tigers coasted past the Wildcats, 48-17.

Green-Beckham, a 6-6, 225-pound sophomore, jumped over his coverage for his first three scoring catches, essentially winning jump balls in the end zone over much shorter cornerbacks and safeties.

Freshman quarterback Maty Mauk gave Green-Beckham plenty to work with, and he took advantage for a career day.

"Well, there is a physical mismatch with almost anybody he plays against," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "He's 6-6, weighs 225 pounds and he's athletic, he can jump.

"We're just fortunate he's on my team. A guy like that can make plays, you coach them only to a certain point. You can throw it up, and he made a couple really great catches."

Mauk completed 17-of-28 passes for 203 yards and five touchdowns.

Senior quarterback James Franklin, who was injured Oct. 12 against Georgia and had not played since, came in late in the fourth quarter after Missouri built a 31-point lead.

The Tigers (9-1, 5-1) hold a half-game lead in the SEC East over South Carolina.

Missouri's two remaining conference games are on the road against Ole Miss and at home against Texas A&M. South Carolina's conference finale is Nov. 16 at home against Florida.

The Gamecocks hold the tiebreaker because of their 27-24 double-overtime victory over Missouri on Oct. 26.

Kentucky was first on the board with a nine-play, 76-yard drive early in the first quarter that led to Joe Mansour's 21-yard field goal.

On the subsequent kickoff, Missouri's Marcus Murphy returned the ball to the Tigers 40-yard line before fumbling, with Kentucky's Tre' Dunn recovering.

The Wildcats went three-and-out, and they got one more stop before Green-Beckham's first score.

"We had an opportunity to make a 6-0 or a 10-0 game and get them playing from behind, get them a little nervous, maybe, and we didn't take advantage of it," Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown said.

"I think we gave up a sack, and where we're at, we've got to take advantage of those or it's going to be a struggle."

On his first touchdown catch, which gave Missouri a 7-3 lead with 1:50 left in the first quarter, Green-Beckham leaped over Kentucky cornerback Nate Willis to make the eight-yard touchdown grab.

Willis was called for pass interference on the play, which was declined.

Green-Beckham's second touchdown came on a seven-yard pass from Mauk in the second quarter, and the third touchdown was his most spectacular of the day.

Green-Beckham leaped over Eric Dixon, a 5-11 safety, as Dixon had both arms wrapped around Green-Beckham, who caught the ball with his hands on the other side of Dixon's helmet. He pulled the ball over Dixon's head and into his body before hitting the ground for a 22-yard touchdown.

Missouri's defense dominated the Wildcats up front, finishing with seven sacks and 11 tackles for losses.

The Tigers, who ranked second in the nation entering play with 17 interceptions this season, did not pick off any passes. Missouri had two turnovers, both fumbles, to Kentucky's one, also a fumble.

Missouri running back Henry Josey rushed 11 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including an 86-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. He also had two catches for 22 yards and a score.

Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow completed 17-of-27 passes for 225 yards. He spent much of the game visibly playing in pain, which he confirmed after the game by referring to his non-throwing shoulder.

Whitlow sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder Oct. 24 against Mississippi State and has played hurt up ever since.

"Yeah, I think the guys see that," Whitlow said. "Like I said, I just try to be out there for the team. It was pretty painful, especially when I get hit on it or land on it."

The Tigers outgained Kentucky, 426-329.

Before the game, Missouri's coaches didn't put particular emphasis on getting Green-Beckham the ball. But given that Kentucky's secondary only had one player over 6 feet tall, Pinkel said the match-ups kept on coming, and Green-Beckham kept making plays.

"I guess that was one of their game plans, to key on me, really," Green-Beckham said. "The safety was really rolling over most of the game. I just felt like I came out there and just beat their defense myself and just went out there and made plays."

NOTES: QB Maty Mauk's five touchdown passes tied a school record. Chase Daniel threw for five touchdowns four times in his career. ... The match-up between SEC East opponents was the second since Missouri joined the conference last year. Missouri leads the all-time series, 2-1. ... Missouri was Kentucky's fifth ranked opponent of the season, and the Wildcats are 0-5 in those games. They also lost to, at the time of the game, No. 7 Louisville, No. 19 Florida, No. 13 South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama.
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