By Keith Taylor
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Patrick Towles is a winner. He’s one reason why Kentucky gave top-ranked Mississippi State all it could handle before the Bulldogs escaped with a 45-31 triumph over the Wildcats Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Towles, a sophomore, threw for a career high 390 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 76 yards and a pair of scores despite getting sacked six times by Mississippi State’s defensive line.
Numerous times during the contest, Towles went deep, throwing a 67-yard touchdown strike to Demarco Robinson and a 58-yard touchdown pass to Javess Blue in the third quarter. He also tossed a 55-yard pass to Ryan Timmons, who led Kentucky’s receivers with five catches for 114 yards.
Despite the odds, Towles wasn’t surprised the Wildcats kept the game close and showed a national audience on CBS Kentucky came to compete.
“We knew that we could be here,” Towles said. “We knew that we could play with anybody in the country. I’m not sure the country knew that we could play with anybody in the country but we fought like I knew we would. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Towles “threw some good balls” but added the performance wasn’t consistent enough for the Cats to pull off an upset over the unbeaten Bulldogs, now 7-0 on the season.
“We were inconsistent (and) he was inconsistent,” the Kentucky coach said. “He really threw some big‑time throws. Our receivers made some big plays. With a game like that, we had some big plays … We needed to play better all the way across the board. But I thought Patrick did some good things.”
Stoops said the Wildcats failed to execute “in all three phases” especially on defense.
“They put so much stress on you, their offense,” he said. “That's why they're the No. 1 offense in our league. They put a lot of stress on you. Obviously we didn't hold up very good.”
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, whose own signal caller Dak Prescott, threw for 216 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 88 yards and a pair of scores against the Kentucky defense, praised the effort by Towles. “(That was) one heck of a day by him,” Mullen said.
The performance by Towles came a week after the Wildcats managed just a field goal in a 41-3 loss at LSU last week in Baton Rouge. Towles said the team made “a lot less mistakes for sure” but didn’t make enough big plays to counter those miscues.
“I really just went after it,” he said. “There was a little timid play down in Baton Rouge, with the whole offense and that was absent today. We ran into a really good football team who is going to win a lot of football games. They have a great quarterback and obviously really good defense. We played alright but we just didn’t play good enough.”
Blue wasn’t surprised by Towles’ performance. “Pat Towles came to play this game, he really stepped up and made big plays that kept us in the game the whole time,” he said. “It’s something that we expect up out of him so he’s really taking that leadership role.”
It’s a role that Towles gladly accepts and he also knows he has plenty of room to improve despite his career outing against the Bulldogs.
“I’ve got to throw the ball better, there’s no getting around that,” he said. “We’ll get better and we’ll improve and be ready for next week,” he said.
That’s what a leader is supposed to do – take responsibility and move on.
Keith Taylor is award-wining sports editor for the Winchester Sun in Winchester, Ky. Keith was named Top Newspaper Columnist in the 2014 Readers Choice awards in Winchester and has won numerous awards from the Kentucky Press Association, with first-place awards for Best Column in 2000, 2009 and 2012. He has won 19 first-place awards and several second-and third-place awards in his 23-year career. He was runner-up for Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year 2008-10. Keith resides in Richmond with his wife Rhonda and is a member of the Berea Church of God, where he serves on the church board.