STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Given a second chance, Scott Westerfield kicked a 45-yard field goal with five seconds left as No. 8 Mississippi State beat Kentucky 23-22 Thursday night to remain undefeated.
Westerfield, who just four minutes earlier had missed a 46-yard field goal, got another chance after Kentucky (5-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) was forced to punt the ball away with 1:30 left.
Mississippi State (8-0, 5-0 SEC) came from a double-digit deficit and won in the final two minutes for the third straight game. It is the best start in school history.
Backup quarterback Matt Wyatt, who replaced injured starter Wayne Madkin in the third quarter, hit 5-of-6 passes for 53 yards after the Bulldogs took over at their 20. After an illegal forward pass penalty pushed the ball back to the Kentucky 28, Westerfield came on and made up for his earlier miss.
Kentucky had one more chance, but Dusty Bonner was hit when he tried to throw a last-ditch pass, and the ball was intercepted by Eugene Clinton to end the game.
The nation's best defense held Kentucky to just 176 yards -- 226 yards below their SEC leading average. The Bulldogs were allowing just 202 yards a game.
Mississippi State, which also had to overcome 19 penalties for 143 yards, got the apparent break it needed when Ashley Cooper hit Bonner, forcing a fumble that Willie Blade recovered at the Kentucky 26.
But the Bulldogs lost 3 yards in three plays before Westerfield missed wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt with 4:12 left. Westerfield had hit six of his first eight attempts of more than 40 yards this season
After being held to just 53 total yards in the first half, Kentucky gained 50 yards on its first possession of the second half. Tight end James Whalen had catches of 17 and 11 yards, but the Wildcats stalled at the MSU 32 and had to settle for Marc Samuel's 39-yard field goal that put the Wildcats up 22-14.
Whalen has 11 catches in the game, pushing his season total to 78, breaking the NCAA record for catches by a tight end that had been set by Utah's Dennis Smith with 73 in 1989.
Madkin injured his ankle midway through the third quarter, and was replaced by Wyatt after moving State from its 20 to the Kentucky 34. Wyatt came on and completed State's only other second-half touchdown drive, converting third-and-7 with an 8-yard pass to Kelvin Love before freshman Dontae Walker scored on a 6-yard run. Mississippi State still trailed 22-20 after missing a two-point conversion.
The Wildcats led 19-14 at halftime, scoring on three straight possessions even though they averaged just 1.6 yards per play.
Bonner's 1-yard plunge put the Wildcats up 12-7, and came just two plays after 6-foot-7, 255-pound defensive end Dennis Johnson blocked a punt to Ketucky up at the 1.
The previous Kentucky scoring drive started at the Mississippi State 24 after Marlon McCree recovered a fumbled snap.
Kendrick Shanklin caught a 4-yard TD pass from Bonner, but Kentucky still trailed 7-6 after Willie Blade rushed through and blocked the extra point.
On Kentucky's first possession of the second quarter, Bonner hit Whalen twice for 32 yards to set up Anthony White's 6-yard TD run.
Justin Griffith leaped over the pile for a 1-yard TD to get State within 19-14. That was just two plays after Madkin hit Love for a 41-yard gain, converting third-and-18 with the over-the-shoulder catch.
The Bulldogs went ahead 7-0 with a three-play, 89-yard drive. Madkin hit freshman Terrell Grindle for 52 yards and Love for 21 more before Dicenzo Miller ran around left end untouched for an 11-yard TD.
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