STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi State football team gave fans a reason to cheer on a chilly November Saturday, as the Bulldogs (4-7, 2-5 SEC) conquered the Arkansas Razorbacks (4-7, 1-6), 31-28 at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott field. The battle came down to the wire, but MSU came out on top as Arkansas missed a 46-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
Arkansas struck first early in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown rush by Michael Smith to cap a 10 play, 71-yard scoring drive. After a Bulldog punt on the next possession, Arkansas would strike in two plays, capitalizing on an 87-yard pass from Nathan Dick to Lucas Miller, widening the gap, 14-0. With just under three minutes left in the first period, the Bulldogs answered back with a 12-play, 73-yard drive, scoring on a Tyson Lee pass to Anthony Dixon from one-yard out.
Shortly into the second quarter, MSU charged down the field and evened the score with a rushing touchdown from 10-yards out by Arnil Stallworth. With a missed field goal by Arkansas, MSU gained momentum, marching down the field and taking control, 17-14, with a 32-yard field goal by Adam Carlson. Arkansas looked to close in on the Bulldogs before halftime but stalled when State senior Derek Pegues intercepted his 12th career pass, tying Izell McGill for second in most career interceptions.
The teams traded possessions throughout most of the third quarter. However, late in the third period, MSU commanded a 24-14 lead when Dixon scampered 65 yards for a touchdown. Just before the end of the third quarter, the Razorbacks would close the gap once again as Nathan Dick connected with D.J. Williams from 22 yards out to close the gap to three.
With the start of the final period, the Bulldogs retaliated with a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive ending with a Lee pass to Dixon from nine yards out that landed him in the end zone, putting MSU in control for the moment 31-21. The teams would trade possessions until the closing minute when Arkansas drove 80 yards on 12 plays and scored on a one-yard pass connection from Nathan Dick to Ben Cleveland.
With 25 seconds remaining in the game Arkansas recovered an on-side kick on their own 40 yard line. After two consecutive first downs, Arkansas lined up for a 46 yard field goal attempt. As time expired, Alex Tejada’s kick sailed wide, giving State the win in regulation.
MSU ended the game with 445 total yards, the most this season. With 179 yards, Dixon reached a career high and moved into fifth-place at MSU in total rushing yards, passing James Johnson. He also notched his ninth 100-yard game, placing him seventh in that category at MSU.
Mississippi State will conclude its season on Friday as they travel to Oxford, Miss., to take on arch-rival Mississippi in the Egg Bowl. The game is slated for an 11:30 a.m. CT start and will be televised by Raycom Sports.