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Defense helps No. 20 Kentucky outlast Middle Tennessee 34-23

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Mike Edwards' early takeaways helped stake Kentucky to its initial lead. Linebacker Josh Allen then made sure the 20th-ranked Wildcats held on with clutch sacks late.

Seniors are expected to stand out in their home finales, and veterans certainly factored in a tenser-than-expected victory against Middle Tennessee.

Edwards' two turnovers led to Kentucky's first two touchdowns, and the Wildcats overcame a second-half lull to make several fourth-quarter defensive stops and escape with a 34-23 win on Saturday.

Kentucky (8-3) ended a two-game slide but had to survive the Blue Raiders' rally within 31-23 early in the fourth. Allen, the Southeastern Conference's sacks leader, dropped Brent Stockstill for a 7-yard loss on fourth down and set up Miles Butler's 32-yard field goal with 4:01 remaining for an 11-point edge.

A defensive facemask penalty helped the Blue Raiders (7-4) reach the Kentucky 5-yard line in the final minute before consecutive sacks of Stockstill by Allen and Jamar Watson totaling 16 yards ended their final chance. Allen had a career-high 15 tackles and two of Kentucky's seven sacks to become the Wildcats' single-season (13) and career sacks leader (27.5).

''I can't thank the linemen enough for doing their jobs and allowing me to have opportunities to make plays like that,'' Allen said.

Edwards provided the initial defensive boost by returning an interception 66 yards for a TD 1:27 into the game. Then he stripped Zack Dobson of the ball on MTSU's next drive to set up Benny Snell Jr. for the first of his two TDs and a 31-10 cushion that Kentucky eventually needed to earn its eighth victory, its most in the regular season since 1984. The 2007 squad earned its eighth win in the Music City Bowl.

''I'm pleased to get the eighth victory, but (it was) definitely not easy,'' Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. ''We knew it was going to be a tough, hard-fought game and they kind of beat us at our game. They kept the ball, possessed the ball the entire game and it kind of got a little aggravating.''

Fortunately for Kentucky, seniors saved the game on a day when 16 of them were honored. And the contributions weren't limited to defense.

Tight end C.J. Conrad caught an 11-yard, second-quarter scoring pass from Terry Wilson on a play that seemed destined for a big loss of yardage. Wilson spun away from the pressure before rolling left and threading an off-balance pass through several defenders to Conrad in the back of the end zone for a 24-7 lead.

Stockstill completed 30 of 33 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns and Chaton rushed for 98 yards and two scores. But those turnovers forced MTSU to play catch-up as its four-game winning streak ended.

''We didn't flinch,'' MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. ''With six or seven minutes left in the game we made it a one-score game, and we couldn't finish it off.''

EMOTIONAL DEBUT

Suiting up would've been rewarding enough for Kentucky sophomore defensive end Josh Paschal, who hadn't played this season while undergoing treatment for a malignant melanoma on the bottom of his foot. Paschal went on to record his first tackle with a third-down stop in the second quarter.

''It felt good just to wipe some dust off, it's been a while,'' said Paschal, who underwent three surgeries and is undergoing immunotherapy every four weeks.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky needed this win and should stay in the AP Top 25.

THE TAKEAWAY

Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders outgained Kentucky 392 yards to 324 and seemed poised to tie the game late, but couldn't break through deep in Wildcats territory. Those turnovers on their first two possessions dug a quick hole they couldn't quite escape. Stockstill became the NCAA's 25th player to reach 100 career TDs.

Kentucky: The Wildcats needed a lift, though it was tense. They finally surpassed 20 points for the first time since beating South Carolina 24-10 on Sept. 29. The offense and defense stalled, before Allen came up with stops that sealed the win.

UP NEXT

Middle Tennessee hosts UAB on Saturday in a matchup against Conference USA's West leader.

Kentucky visits Louisville on Saturday night in search of a nine-win season and second rivalry win in three seasons.

---

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 4:12
95-M.Butler 32 yards Field Goal is Good.
10
plays
52
yds
05:24
pos
23
34
Point After TD 13:18
18-C.Holt extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
23
31
Touchdown 13:24
12-B.Stockstill complete to 37-P.Smith. 37-P.Smith runs 5 yards for a touchdown.
13
plays
88
yds
03:17
pos
22
31
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Missed Point After Touchdown 4:32
18-C.Holt extra point is no good.
plays
yds
pos
16
31
Touchdown 4:40
12-B.Stockstill complete to 8-T.Lee. 8-T.Lee runs 10 yards for a touchdown.
12
plays
65
yds
05:50
pos
16
31
Point After TD 10:30
95-M.Butler extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
10
31
Touchdown 10:37
26-B.Snell runs 6 yards for a touchdown.
10
plays
85
yds
00:00
pos
10
30
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 1:08
18-C.Holt 33 yards Field Goal is Good.
5
plays
19
yds
1:25
pos
10
24
Point After TD 8:40
95-M.Butler extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
24
Touchdown 8:50
3-T.Wilson complete to 87-C.Conrad. 87-C.Conrad runs 11 yards for a touchdown.
8
plays
104
yds
02:30
pos
7
23
Point After TD 11:20
18-C.Holt extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
7
17
Touchdown 11:25
12-B.Stockstill complete to 44-C.Mobley. 44-C.Mobley runs 6 yards for a touchdown.
13
plays
77
yds
01:34
pos
6
17
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 2:20
95-M.Butler 38 yards Field Goal is Good.
9
plays
34
yds
04:38
pos
0
17
Point After TD 8:36
95-M.Butler extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
14
Touchdown 8:41
26-B.Snell runs 7 yards for a touchdown.
8
plays
50
yds
03:37
pos
0
13
Point After TD 13:33
95-M.Butler extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 13:50
12-B.Stockstill incomplete. Intended for 21-T.Thomas INTERCEPTED by 7-M.Edwards at KEN 34. 7-M.Edwards runs 66 yards for a touchdown. Team penalty on MTS Personal Foul declined.
1
plays
66
yds
0:00
pos
0
6
Team Stats
1st Downs 24 15
Rushing 8 10
Passing 14 5
Penalty 2 0
3rd Down Conv 4-12 4-10
4th Down Conv 2-4 0-1
Total Net Yards 342 314
Total Plays 71 54
Avg Gain 4.8 5.8
Net Yards Rushing 99 203
Rush Attempts 38 40
Avg Rush Yards 2.6 5.1
Net Yards Passing 243 111
Comp. - Att. 30-33 10-14
Yards Per Pass 7.4 7.9
Sacked - Yards Lost 7-50 1-10
Penalties - Yards 6-57 6-51
Touchdowns 3 4
Rushing TDs 0 2
Passing TDs 3 1
Other 0 1
Turnovers 2 0
Fumbles - Lost 2-1 2-0
Int. Thrown 1 0
Punts - Avg 2-32.0 2-33.5
Return Yards 4 152
Punts - Returns 1-4 0-0
Kickoffs - Returns 0-0 4-86
Int. - Returns 0-0 1-66
Kicking 3/4 6/6
Extra Points 2/3 4/4
Field Goals 1/1 2/2
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Middle Tenn. 7-4 0106723
17 Kentucky 8-3 1777334
243 PASS YDS 111
99 RUSH YDS 203
342 TOTAL YDS 314
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
B. Stockstill 12 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
90.9% 293 3 1 189.4
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
70.8% 2591 24 6 151.5
B. Stockstill 30/33 293 3 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
C. Mobley 44 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
19 98 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
90 477 4
C. Mobley 19 98 0 16
T. West 1 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 25 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
58 277 1
T. West 5 25 0 9
Z. Dobson 24 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 3 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
8 113 0
Z. Dobson 1 3 0 3
T. Thomas 21 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 3 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
67 203 5
T. Thomas 1 3 0 3
B. Stockstill 12 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
12 -30 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
101 135 2
B. Stockstill 12 -30 0 5
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
T. Lee 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 85 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
58 706 6
T. Lee 7 85 1 26
C. Mobley 44 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
5 62 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
13 99 1
C. Mobley 5 62 1 24
Z. Dobson 24 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
2 46 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
7 101 2
Z. Dobson 2 46 0 34
P. Smith 37 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
6 38 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
48 471 6
P. Smith 6 38 1 16
T. Thomas 21 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 31 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
29 157 3
T. Thomas 7 31 0 9
G. Casey 87 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 11 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
24 300 3
G. Casey 1 11 0 11
T. West 1 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 11 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
15 72 0
T. West 1 11 0 11
I. Upton 9 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
2 20 0
I. Upton 1 9 0 9
Defense T-A SACK INT
W. Bush 23 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
9-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-3 4 0.0
W. Bush 9-3 0.0 0
R. Blankenship 12 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-2 2 0.0
R. Blankenship 8-2 0.0 0
D. Thomas 20 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
D. Thomas 5-1 0.0 0
D. Harris 30 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-3 0 0.0
D. Harris 4-3 0.0 0
D. Liggins 85 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-1 0 0.0
D. Liggins 4-1 0.0 0
K. Brooks 6 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 0 1.0
K. Brooks 3-0 1.0 0
T. Render 94 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
T. Render 3-0 0.0 0
C. Stamps 2 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
C. Stamps 2-1 0.0 0
R. Collins 96 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
R. Collins 2-0 0.0 0
R. Poydras 90 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-2 0 0.0
R. Poydras 1-2 0.0 0
J. Jones 43 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Jones 1-0 0.0 0
M. Manciel 93 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
M. Manciel 1-0 0.0 0
K. Gladney 38 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
K. Gladney 1-0 0.0 0
J. Ferguson 91 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Ferguson 1-0 0.0 0
T. Philpots 95 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-3 0 0.0
T. Philpots 0-3 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
C. Holt 18 K
IN-GAME FG XP
1/1 2/3
SEASON FG XP
10/15 35/40
C. Holt 1/1 33 2/3 5
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
M. Bonadies 99 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
2 32.0 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
43 42.0 1
M. Bonadies 2 32.0 1 34
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
T. Lee 8 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 4.0 4 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 9.3 4 0
T. Lee 1 4.0 4 0
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
T. Wilson 3 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
71.4% 121 1 0 167.6
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
67% 1507 8 7 127.4
T. Wilson 10/14 121 1 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
B. Snell 26 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
26 116 2
SEASON ATT YDS TD
245 1205 12
B. Snell 26 116 2 17
A. Rose 10 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
7 48 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
57 321 4
A. Rose 7 48 0 31
T. Wilson 3 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 27 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
115 439 3
T. Wilson 5 27 0 36
L. Bowden 1 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 12 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
6 18 0
L. Bowden 1 12 0 12
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
C. Conrad 87 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 51 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
27 238 3
C. Conrad 4 51 1 17
J. Rigg 83 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 29 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
3 41 0
J. Rigg 1 29 0 29
I. Epps 81 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 24 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
8 76 0
I. Epps 3 24 0 14
L. Bowden 1 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
56 575 3
L. Bowden 1 9 0 9
T. Richardson 11 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 8 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
11 102 0
T. Richardson 1 8 0 8
Z. Hughes 13 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
1 63 1
Z. Hughes 0 0 0 0
Defense T-A SACK INT
M. Edwards 7 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
10-2 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-2 2 0.0
M. Edwards 10-2 0.0 1
J. Allen 41 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
10-4 0 2.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-4 0 2.0
J. Allen 10-4 2.0 0
D. West 25 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 3 0.0
D. West 6-0 0.0 0
Ka. Daniel 56 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-2 0 0.0
Ka. Daniel 6-2 0.0 0
D. Robinson 9 S
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
D. Robinson 5-0 0.0 0
J. Jones 34 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
J. Jones 4-0 0.0 0
D. Baity 8 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 0.0
D. Baity 3-0 0.0 0
C. Westry 21 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
C. Westry 2-0 1.0 0
D. Square 43 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
D. Square 2-0 0.0 0
C. Taylor 91 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-2 0 0.0
C. Taylor 2-2 0.0 0
A. Middleton 99 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
A. Middleton 2-0 1.0 0
P. Hoskins 92 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 1.0
P. Hoskins 2-0 1.0 0
J. Watson 31 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 1.0
J. Watson 1-0 1.0 0
Q. Bohanna 95 NT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 1.0
Q. Bohanna 1-2 1.0 0
L. Johnson 6 CB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
L. Johnson 1-0 0.0 0
J. Paschal 4 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Paschal 1-0 0.0 0
K. Looney 59 DT
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
K. Looney 1-0 0.0 0
C. Oats 22 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
C. Oats 1-0 0.0 0
T. Carter 90 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
T. Carter 1-0 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
M. Butler 95 K
IN-GAME FG XP
2/2 4/4
SEASON FG XP
5/9 29/29
M. Butler 2/2 38 4/4 10
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
M. Duffy 93 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
2 33.5 0
SEASON NO AVG IN20
51 44.8 0
M. Duffy 2 33.5 0 47
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
L. Bowden 1 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
4 21.5 27 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
20 21.8 27 0
L. Bowden 4 21.5 27 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 UK 35 0:53 5 63 INT
13:33 UK 35 0:43 5 15 Fumble
8:36 UK 35 1:04 5 -5 Punt
1:40 UK 35 1:34 13 75 TD
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
8:40 UK 35 4:33 10 36 Punt
2:39 UK 35 1:25 5 19 FG
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
10:30 UK 35 5:50 12 75 TD
3:30 MTSU 20 3:17 13 80 TD
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:37 UK 41 1:17 4 -20 Downs
4:02 UK 35 3:15 14 76 Downs
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
12:18 MTSU 50 3:37 8 50 TD
6:58 UK 46 4:38 9 34 FG
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
11:20 MTSU 35 2:30 8 75 TD
3:30 UK 9 0:45 3 6 Punt
1:08 MTSU 35 0:17 4 5 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
0:13 MTSU 35 0:00 10 83 TD
4:32 MTSU 35 0:47 4 -13 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:18 MTSU 35 1:23 5 6 Downs
9:36 UK 39 5:24 10 47 FG
0:25 UK 21 0:00 1 0