STARKVILLE, Miss. — Sophomore Knile Davis became the 10th player in University of Arkansas history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, but tonight, it will be his first career touchdown reception that saved the day as the 13th-ranked Razorbacks won in double overtime over Mississippi State, 38-31.
Davis rushed for 187 yards on 30 carries, but Ryan Mallett found him wide open from the backfield for six yards in the second overtime for the win.
It was a game filled with drama as it looked twice that the Razorbacks had their ninth win of the year sewn up against the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs (7-4, 3-4).
The Hogs shut down a potent Bulldog offense on its final drive of the game, and was killing time in the late fourth quarter. State was forced to use its final time outs. All the Razorbacks needed was a first down, but a fumble by Davis gave the ball back to MSU with just over a minute to play.
State quarterback Chris Relf moved the Bulldogs up field, but was unable to get the score. Rushing before time expired, MSU got the kicking unit on the field for a 25-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
Arkansas won the toss and elected to play defense, a break that set the stage for another near miss. State running back Vick Ballard fumbled into the end zone for a touch back to end the first overtime for MSU. The Razorbacks were unable to end the game, however, as freshman kicker Zack Hocker missed, only his second of the season.
The Razorbacks were on offense first to start the second OT, and Mallett opened up the offense quickly. On third down, he rolled right, then looked back left at Davis who had snuck out of the backfield against the flow of the play. Mallett tossed the easy pass to Davis for his first career touchdown reception.
State was stopped on downs, with a definite final play of the game as Tenarius Wright sacked Relf to end the contest.
For the night, Davis’ three touchdowns led the Razorbacks. His rushing put him at 1,031 for the year, and becomes the 10th Razorback in school history to post a 1,000-yard season.
Mallett threw for 305 yards in the game, going 17-of-26 with three touchdown passes and one interception. He had two drives of less than 40 seconds.
D.J. Williams and Joe Adams had four catches each to lead the Razorbacks, with Jarius Wright topping the yardage with 105 for his two receptions.
With Arkansas leading at half, 21-17, State opened the third quarter with another long drive taking time off the clock, but a fumble by Relf gave Arkansas the ball deep in its own territory. Mallett dropped back and found a wide open Wright 45 yards down field. Wright cut back to the sideline and turned the play into an 89-yard touchdown to regain the lead for Arkansas. It is the second longest touchdown pass in school history, with the one-play drive taking only 15 seconds.
Arkansas’ defense turned in back-to-back sacks to kill State’s next drive at the close of the third quarter.
Mallett took control on the next drive, mixing runs from Davis with passing, concluding with a one-yard run from Davis and a 31-21 lead.
Relf rallied the Bulldogs with a 14-play drive for 75 yards, including the fourth fourth-down conversion of the game for MSU. Ballard took it in the final four yards to cut the Razorback lead to a field goal, 31-28, with 4:24 left.
Arkansas ground almost three minutes off the clock before the fumble which allowed MSU to drive up field for the tying field goal.
Razorbacks opened the game with the ball, but their first drive stalled at midfield. Relf kept up the middle out of the option for 23 yards and the touchdown to give MSU the opening lead.. The senior quarterback went 2-of-3 on the drive of eight plays for 86 yards.
It wasn’t long — 34 seconds as a matter of fact — before Arkansas tied the game. Working from the Hogs 32, Arkansas used two plays to set the stage for a 62-yard touchdown run by Davis. Starting with a play fake from Mallett that froze the linebackers, Davis took the handoff to the left against the flow of the play. With a sealing block on the edge from Williams, Davis went untouched into the endzone to tie the game 7-7.
The teams traded fumbles before State put together a drive to tie the game at 14-14. A fake punt deep in Bulldog territory and a fourth-down conversion in the Razorback end of the field kept the drive alive. Relf found Smith for a 22-yard pass to the one, setting up a one-yard plunge by Ballard with 9:52 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs came back with a clock-burning drive for the next score, holding the ball for 4:37 before a two-yard run by Ballard gave MSU the lead, 21-14, with 2:29 left in the half.
Arkansas drove into Bulldog territory to close the half, finishing with a 32-yard field goal by Hocker.
The atmosphere was electric all night as the crowd of 56,406 was fourth largest crowd in Davis Wade Stadium history.
Ballard led MSU with 154 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Relf added 128 yards rushing and threw for 224 on 20-of-30. Relf was sacked five times by the Razorback defense.
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