Myron Pryor’s toe kept him out of Kentucky’s last game. His fingers kept his team in this one.

The 300-pound sophomore defensive tackle, coming back from turf toe that sidelined him nearly two weeks, caused three key turnovers as Kentucky defeated Mississippi 31-14 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener.

“This game was a big turning point for me,” Pryor said.

The Wildcats, too. Every time the Rebels threatened to chip into Kentucky’s lead, Pryor seemed to have an answer. He nabbed an interception, forced a fumble and recovered another, each stopping drives dead in their tracks.

Kentucky won its first SEC opener in 19 years. With the Wildcats moving to 2-1 overall on the season, it also marks the first time in coach Rich Brooks’ three-plus seasons in charge Kentucky has been above .500.

“Small step, big step, medium step — I don’t know,” Brooks said. “But it’s a step in the right direction.”

Although Pryor was the one making the strides on the defensive side of the ball, a familiar face was doing it on offense. Dicky Lyons Jr., son of the former Kentucky standout by the same name, grabbed his fifth and sixth touchdown catches of the year.

Lyons, who has scored twice in each of the first three games, has assuaged one of Brooks’ biggest fears coming into the season: whether the team could find a receiving threat opposite playmaker Keenan Burton.

“I’m just fortunate enough to get the ball, be in the formation when coach calls that play and him having the trust in me to make that play,” Lyons said. “I’m not going to let them down.”

Mississippi got on the board first after Rafael Little fumbled, giving the ball to the Rebels near midfield. Quarterback Brent Schaeffer took advantage, lobbing a flat pass to Marshay Green, who eluded several Kentucky defenders at the line of scrimmage, then darted untouched toward the end zone for a 47-yard score.

The Wildcats responded immediately, thanks to Lyons, who caught a 33-yard Andre’ Woodson pass to put Kentucky in position, then scored on a 26-yard slant a few plays later.

Lyons struck again on Kentucky’s next possession, leaping in the back of the end zone for yet another touchdown. Lyons would finish with four catches and 83 yards.

“This has to be a pretty big story in college football,” Brooks said. “The guy has six touchdown catches in three games. That’s as many as Andre’ threw last year and he’s thrown six of them to one guy in the first three games.”

Woodson had 290 yards and his second-straight three-touchdown game.

After Schaeffer hit a wide-open Robert Hough for a 27-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14, Woodson connected on a 22-yard scoring pass to Curtis Pulley, who he beat out for the starting quarterback job. That put the Wildcats in front for good.

Kentucky took a 21-14 lead into halftime, and it could have been even more.

With the seconds ticking down, Pryor knocked the ball out of Schaeffer’s hand, and J.D. Craigman recovered it for the Wildcats.

But freshman kicker Lones Seiber, trying his first field goal since winning the starting job this week, had his 37-yard attempt blocked as time expired. Seiber would hit a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

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