No. 14 Ole Miss beats No. 7 Kentucky 22-19 after two late Will Levis fumbles

Ole Miss is 5-0 for the first time since 2014 after forcing two Will Levis fumbles in the final three minutes.

The Rebels hung on for a 22-19 victory over Kentucky on Saturday when Levis fumbled with 55 seconds to go. He never saw the pass rush as he looked to his left and got the ball stripped by Jared Ivey off the edge as he went to pass.

That fumble came after Kentucky got the ball back with 1:49 to go. The Wildcats had used their final two timeouts after another Levis fumble with 2:55 to go.

On that fumble, the Kentucky quarterback appeared to be close to a first down on a third-down keeper but got the ball knocked out of his arms as he fought for the marker. The ball bounced backward and Ole Miss recovered.

The Ole Miss lead was three points because of a fourth-down decision earlier in the quarter by Ole Miss and Kentucky’s first-half kicking woes. The Rebels eschewed a field goal attempt to go up six before Kentucky’s drive. Jaxson Dart’s fourth-and-goal pass was deflected at the goal line and fell incomplete.

Kentucky also cost itself five points in the first half because of its kicking problems. Matt Ruffalo missed a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter and had an extra point blocked on the Wildcats’ first TD of the day. UK then had a problem on the snap on the extra point attempt on its second TD of the day.

Despite all of that, the Wildcats still tied at 19-19 in the third quarter when Jordan Dingle caught a 17-yard TD pass from Levis. But Ole Miss responded with a drive that ended in a 53-yard field goal from Jonathan Cruz.

Kentucky’s player of the game was wide receiver and kick returner Barion Brown. His catch and run of 51 yards put the Wildcats in the red zone before Levis’ fumble. And Kentucky thought it had a TD on the play after Brown’s catch but wasn’t set when the ball was snapped. Levis was stripped on the play after the five-yard penalty.

Brown also had three kick returns for 164 yards. One of those was an 85-yard return that set up Kentucky’s first TD of the day.

Ole Miss freshman RB Quinshon Judkins rushed 15 times for 106 yards and had a 48-yard TD run. The Rebels averaged nearly five yards a carry while Kentucky averaged fewer than three yards a carry.

Ole Miss now has a fantastic shot at moving to 7-0 before visiting LSU on Oct. 22. The Rebels will be significant favorites at Vanderbilt in Week 6 and at home against Auburn in Week 7 as they try to position themselves as the No. 2 team in the SEC West. Kentucky, meanwhile, hosts South Carolina in Week 6 before big games against Mississippi State and Tennessee to finish October.

OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI - OCTOBER 01: Austin Keys #11 of the Mississippi Rebels sacks Will Levis #7 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ole Miss forced two late Will Levis fumbles in a 22-19 win over Kentucky. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)