LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Junior quarterback Casey Dick threw a career-high four touchdowns and the Razorbacks scored 24 unanswered points in the first half as Arkansas defeated Mississippi State, 45-31, in front of 55,185 fans at War Memorial Stadium.
Dick finished the game completing 14-of-17 passes for 199 and the career-best four touchdowns. With the four touchdown passes, Dick moves into a tied for third place on the UA all-time list for touchdown passes (33) with Barry Lunney, Jr.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring with a 15-play drive in the first quarter that covered 80 yards. After converting on third-and-ten earlier in the series, Mississippi State quarterback Wesley Carroll connected with Jamayel Smith on a 19-yard completion on a fourth-and-five play. Carroll and Smith hooked up again on a four-yard touchdown that gave Mississippi State the early 7-0 lead.
Arkansas forced a fumble on the Bulldogs’ first drive when Ernest Mitchell stripped tailback Christian Ducre of the ball. Matt Hewitt recovered the ball for the Razorbacks on the 47-yard line. The Arkansas offense failed to capitalize on the takeaway and were forced to give the ball back after a three-and-out series.
Freshman Alex Tejada connected on a 39-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to cut the Mississippi State lead to 7-3. Back-to-back completions to Marcus Monk and Peyton Hillis set up the kick. The field goal was Tejada’s 17th of the season.
The Razorbacks took the lead on a 30-yard catch and run by Little Rock native Farod Jackson on their next series. The score, Jackson’s first career touchdown, capped a seven-play, 79-yard drive that opened with five consecutive rushes that gained 49 yards, including runs of 11 and 13 yards, respectively, by Hillis and a 17-yard run by Darren McFadden. After the extra point, the Hogs led 10-7.
On the ensuing drive, Kevin Woods intercepted a Carroll pass. The pick was Woods’ second of the season and fourth of his career. Again the Razorbacks could not take advantage of the turnover and punted the ball away. Jeremy Davis’ punt pinned the Bulldogs inside the five-yard line.
After forcing a Mississippi State punt, the Razorbacks went to the air on the first play of the drive. Dick threw his second touchdown of the game with a 35-yard completion to Robert Johnson who had gotten behind the Bulldog defense. It was the senior receiver’s third touchdown catch of the season.
Arkansas padded its lead when Marcus Monk hauled in a 19-yard pass from Dick. Monk out-jumped two Mississippi State defenders to pull in the touchdown, his third score of the season. He has 27 career touchdown receptions which is tied for seventh all-time on the SEC career list. On the first play of the drive, London Crawford picked up 31 yards on a reverse.
Mississippi State started its last drive of the half with 43 seconds remaining on the clock. With eight second left in the second quarter, Carroll completed a pass to Smith for 27 yards down to the eight-yard line, but time ran out before the Bulldogs could call a timeout.
The Hogs went in to the locker room at the half with a 24-7 lead.
Mississippi State ended the Hogs’ scoring run with a 25-yard field goal by Adam Carlson on its first drive of the second half. The score capped a nine-play series for the Bulldogs.
Dick’s fourth touchdown throw of the game, a 57-yard score to McFadden, put the Razorbacks ahead by 21. The junior quarterback was flushed out of the pocked on third and one and hit McFadden who made the catch and raced down the field to the endzone.
Hewitt intercepted a Carroll pass in the third quarter to give Arkansas possession with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter. It was the second interception of Hewitt’s career.
The Razorback offense was held and forced to punt away to the Bulldogs. Derek Pegues picked up a 37-yard punt return to set up the Mississippi State. On the next play, Tony Burks caught a 35-yard score from Carroll, his second touchdown pass of the game. The Hogs were ahead at the end of the third quarter, 31-17.
Arkansas put together an eight-play, 79-yard drive in the fourth quarter that pushed its lead to 38-17. McFadden lined up at quarterback and threw a 24-yard touchdown to Johnson in the back of the endzone, his career-high second touchdown reception of the game.. The touchdown pass was McFadden’s third of the season.
The scoring continued when the Carroll-Smith duo connected again with an 80-yard touchdown on the Bulldogs’ next possession.
Antwain Robinson’s 30-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Razorbacks a 45-24 advantage. It was the second time in his career the junior defensive end has returned an interception for a score.
Carroll threw his fourth touchdown of the game when he hit Jason Husband with on a 19-yard score with 5:00 left in the game. The freshman quarterback threw for 421 yards against the Hogs, the first time an opposing quarterback has eclipsed the 400-yard mark since Ole Miss’ Eli Manning threw for 414 yards in 2002.
Smith’s total reception yards (208 yards) is the most by an opposing player since 1995 when Auburn’s Willie Gosha had 222 receiving yards against Arkansas.
A late interception by Michael Grant, Carroll’s fourth of the game, gave the Hogs’ the ball with less than a minute remaining in the game.
The Razorbacks’ regular season will conclude with Friday’s 1:30 p.m. CT game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La.