SEC stutters in off-brand games
September, 15, 2012
By David Helman | ESPN.com
The SEC East fight between Florida and Tennessee took center stage in prime time tonight, followed closely by Missouri's nail-biting victory against Arizona State. While those two matchups took up most of the airwaves and the attention, the rest of the league struggled a bit in several low-key matchups.
First up is Week 3's black eye for the conference:
Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky 31 (OT): The Sun Belt downed an SEC team for the second consecutive weekend -- though Western Kentucky's overtime win against the Wildcats isn't quite on par with Louisiana-Monroe's upset of No. 8 Arkansas last week.
The Hilltoppers raced out to a 17-0 lead on Kentucky before eventually allowing the Wildcats back into it. Kentucky forced overtime with just 24 seconds remaining when quarterback Maxwell Smith found wide receiver DeMarcus Sweat for a 22-yard score that tied the game at 24-24. Kentucky scored to open the overtime period, but Western Kentucky answered on a two-yard run from running back Antonio Andrews.
The Hilltoppers opted to go for two points and the win rather than kick an extra point. The decision worked to perfection when Andrews took a screen pass from quarterback Kawaun Jakes, only to fire back to Jakes on a halfback pass. Jakes strolled into the end zone for the 32-31 win.
Mississippi State 30, Troy 24: The Bulldogs seemed to have Troy under control when they took a 23-7 lead at halftime. But the Trojans roared back on the strength of 223 yards rushing, with three rushing touchdowns.
Bulldogs wide receiver Chad Bumphis did whatever he wanted to the Troy secondary. He caught six balls for 180 yards and three touchdowns, the last of which put Mississippi State up by nine with seven minutes to play. Troy kicked a field goal to cut the lead to six with four minutes to play, but the Bulldogs were able to hold on.
South Carolina 49, Alabama-Birmingham 6: The Gamecocks eventually downed the Blazers by quite a convincing score, but there was plenty of bumbling in a first half that saw UAB cut the lead as close as eight.
Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson both saw time at quarterback for South Carolina. Shaw had the better completion percentage, as he went 8 of 14 for 107 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Thompson only completed 5 of 10 passes, but he had the better stats, with 177 yards for two touchdowns and no picks.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore carried 12 times for 85 yards, and his lone touchdown of the night put the Gamecocks up 21-6 just before halftime. South Carolina outscored the Blazers 28-0 in the second half to pull away -- the biggest highlight coming on a 94-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to wide receiver Damiere Byrd.