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  Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed for a career-high 206 yards and three of his four touchdowns, including the go-ahead score from 8 yards with 11:28 remaining, and Kentucky stopped Missouri late for a hard-fought 35-28 victory Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener. The Wildcats (2-0, 1-0) never trailed this thrilling showdown for the early East Division lead but had to overcome squandering a 28-14 lead as Missouri (1-1, 1-1) eventually tied the game early in the fourth quarter. Kentucky answered by taking the kickoff and quickly marching 75 yards, helped by Rodriguez's 28-yard run and Will Levis' 28-yard pass to tight end Justin Rigg to the Tigers' 8.

Rodriguez barged in from the 8 for the TD, a play in which he appeared to fumble as he crossed the goal line but was upheld on review. Missouri had a final chance to tie after blocking Kentucky's field goal attempt, but turned it over on downs as Connor Bazelak's pass intended for Dominic Lovett was broken up by Kentucky's Carrington Valentine with 1:30 left. Rodriguez, who surpassed his previous best of 149 yards against Vanderbilt last November, carried 27 times with additional TDs of 2 and 3 yards in matching his career high. The junior also had a 5-yard TD catch, his first, on Kentucky's opening drive. Levis completed 10 of 18 passes for 179 yards, a TD and an interception off a tipped pass. Most importantly, Kentucky controlled the line of scrimmage, an effort that totaled 340 yards rushing with Rodriguez leading the way. "Just me communicating with the (offensive) line," Rodriguez said. "After every series we would come off and talk about what's going on and where to hit (the line) at. I just trust those dudes." - Kentucky/AP College Football

rSr/2023 RB Chris Rodriguez Jr.Kentucky
News Source: Kentucky/AP College Football

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