Starkville, Miss. – Holding a seven point lead with less than a minute remaining, the Arkansas Razorbacks held Mississippi State on fourth down to preserve a 26-19 victory over the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon.Arkansas improved to 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State fell to 3-8 overall and 0-7 in the SEC.
Arkansas held a 26-6 lead entering the fourth quarter. But the Bulldogs began a rally behind backup quarterback Kyle York. York threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final stanza to pull MSU within six points.
Mississippi State drove to the Arkansas 20-yard line with less than a minute left. On fourth-and-six, York scrambled but was forced out of bounds just short of the first down marker to seal the Razorback victory.
The Razorbacks finished with 326 yards of total offense. The Hogs racked up 237 yards rushing and 89 yards passing.
Freshman tailback De’Arruis Howard ran for a career-high 121 yards on 25 carries to lead all rushers. It marked the fourth 100-yard rushing performance by a Razorback this season.
Tailback Fred Talley just missed his fourth 100-yard game as he ran for 94 yards on 18 carries.
Quarterback Matt Jones was 8-of-14 passing for 89 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Mississippi State rolled up 414 yards of total offense with 125 yards coming from the rushing game and 289 yards through the air.
Starting quarterback Kevin Fant was 14-of-26 for 115 yards with an interception before giving way to York late in the third quarter. York finished 11-of-22 for 174 yards with one interception and two TDs.
Justin Griffith led the Bulldogs with 72 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Mississippi State wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as the Bulldogs drove the opening kickoff 62 yards in 12 plays. Kicker Brent Smith converted on a 25-yard attempt to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.
The Razorbacks, however, answered right back on the ensuing possession when George Wilson caught an eight-yard pass on third and goal for the Razorback touchdown. The score capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Hogs a 7-3 lead.
Arkansas extended its lead midway through the second quarter when Jones hit Mark Pierce for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Hogs a 14-3 lead. It was Jones’ second scoring pass of the game and it capped a 15-play, 86-yard drive that took 6:05 off the clock.
On Mississippi State’s ensuing possession, Clarke Moore sacked Fant in the end zone for a safety to give Arkansas a 16-3 lead. It was the first safety for the Razorbacks since recording one against Alabama earlier this season.
Following the MSU punt, the Hogs drove 54 yards in 11 plays to increase their lead to 19-3 on Carlton’s 26-yard field goal. With that kick Carlton had converted five straight field goals and 10 of his last 11.
Lawrence Richardson ended a MSU scoring threat when he picked off Fant at the Razorback 30-yard line. It was Richardson’s third interception of the season.
DeCori Birmingham got the Hogs on the right foot to open the second half with a 60 yard kickoff return to set the Razorbacks up at the MSU 38-yard line.
The Bulldog defense tightened however and held the Hogs scoreless on the drive. Carlton missed a 41-yard field goal attempt as it sailed wide left.
After an exchange of punts, the Bulldogs marched 46 yards in 12 plays and pulled within 19-6 after a 32-yard field goal by Smith.
Following the field goal, the Bulldogs attempted an onside kick that went out of bounds at their 43-yard line. The Hogs needed just eight plays to find the end zone. Pierce scored his second touchdown of the day on a five-yard run to give the Razorbacks a 26-6 lead with 13:51 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs were not finished, however. Mississippi State took the ensuing kickoff and marched 78 yards in nine plays to the Arkansas 21-yard line. On fourth-and-seven, York’s pass was deflected by Richardson but landed in Antonio Hargo’s hands in the end zone for the MSU touchdown.
The Bulldogs missed the two-point conversion to make it a 26-12 game with less than 12 minutes left in the game.
Mississippi State then forced Arkansas to punt and moved the ball inside the Hogs’ 45-yard line. But, Richardson stepped up and intercepted his second pass of the day to end the Bulldog drive.
Once again the Bulldogs forced the Hogs to punt. This time, York hit Ray Ray Bivens in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown throw-and-catch to cap an 81-yard march that cut the Razorback lead to 26-19 with 3:20 left in the game.
The Bulldogs then recovered the ensuing onside kick at their 47-yard line with 3:17 remaining on the clock to set up the late-game heroics by the Razorbacks.