State puts away USM late to claim 41-20 football victory

Golden Eagles see 2-game winning streak snapped in Starkville Saturday
Southern Miss football
Southern Miss football
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 3:50 PM CST
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STARKVILLE,, Miss. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi was within striking distance of Mississippi State University with less than eight minutes to play Saturday.

But two, big scoring plays down the stretch by the Bulldogs sealed the Golden Eagles’ doom, as State nailed down a 41-20 victory over its intrastate rivals.

USM (3-8), which came into Davis Wade Stadium riding a two-game winning streak, saw Jakarius Caston answer a Mississippi State field goal with a 98-yard kickoff return to get the Golden Eagles within 26-20 with 7 minutes, 52 seconds, to play.

But MSU running back Jeffery Pittman, a Taylorsville High School product, ripped off a 59-yard touchdown run 38 seconds later, followed by a two-point conversion pass, to build back the State cushion to 34-20.

State (5-6) ended USM’s hopes by halting a Golden Eagle drive that had reached the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line with an interception that was returned 69 yards for the game-clincher.

The outcome gave Mississippi State interim coach Greg Knox his first career victory.

Knox was handed the reins after first-year Coach Zach Arnett was fired Monday.

The Golden Eagles will wrap up the 2023 football season by hosting Troy University at 11 a.m. Saturday.

State will welcome archrival Ole Miss at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in a renewal of the Egg Bowl.

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