Bulldogs Escape Louisiana Tech In OT, 26-20
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Two
big plays on both sides of the ball within seconds of each other turned
out to be the difference for Mississippi State.
In an outcome
that couldn’t be decided in the allotted 60 minutes of regulation, the
Bulldogs turned a nail-biter into a 26-20 overtime victory against
Louisiana Tech on Saturday in front of 55,116 fans at Scott Field, most
of whom were on the edge of their seats for the majority of the second
The decisive points came on the Bulldogs’ second play in
the overtime frame, when quarterback Chris Relf lobbed a pass to
LaDarius Perkins racing down the sideline for the 17-yard touchdown. It
was Relf’s first completion since the third quarter, snapping a streak
of seven-straight incompletions.
"I looked up again and the ball
was in the light and it was coming toward me," said Perkins, who
finished with 23 receiving yards to go along with his 47 rushing yards.
"I knew I had to catch the ball."
But as big as that play proved
to be, the MSU defense, which took the field first after winning the
coin toss, delivered one of their own moments earlier that was just as
Tech, which fell to 1-3, picked up 5 yards on the
first play in overtime, but on its second play, quarterback Nick Isham
was picked off by Nickoe Whitley at the 3.
It was one of the few
mistakes on the night for the true freshman signal caller, who was
29-of-40 passing for 233 yards. However, 18 of his completions covered
just 10 yards or less.
“Give our guys a lot of credit. They
continued to fight, and when they needed to make a play, they stepped
up,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen, whose team improved to 2-2 on the year
and travels to Georgia next Saturday for an 11 a.m. kickoff.
The first big play of the evening was turned in by the special teams unit.
a 72-yard punt by Tech’s Ryan Allen, Chad Bumphis hauled in the
football and didn’t stop running until he scored 82-yards later to give
MSU a 7-3 lead midway through the opening quarter. It was State’s first
punt return for a score since Derek Pegues’ 75-yard return against Ole
Miss in 2009.
After the visiting Bulldogs regained the lead at
10-7, Vick Ballard put MSU back on top at 14-10 on an 11-yard run with
8:45 left in the first half.
Derek DePasquale then extended the
advantage to 17-10 on a 36-yard field goal with 1:38 before
intermission, but LA Tech made it a 17-17 affair on a 14-yard scoring
strike from Isham to Quinton Patton with 8:25 left in the third.
on the Bulldogs' next possession, DePasquale again delivered following
a Johnthan Banks interception. This time, his kick was from 24 yards
out for a 20-17 lead.
But in the fourth, Tech forced overtime
when Matt Nelson connected on his second field goal, this time from 28
yards with 8:42 to play.
For the game, the Bulldogs, now 3-4
all-time in overtime outings en route to improving to 8-3 against Tech,
manufactured 340 yards of total offense, while Tech had 359. On the
ground, Ballard paced MSU with 68 yards on 17 carries. His touchdown
was the 24th of his career, which tied him for the third most in school
history with Jackie Parker, John Bond and James Johnson.
Through the air, Relf was 14-of-29 passing for 164 yards.
don't think Chris had his best game, but give him credit. He stood in
there under pressure and threw the game-winning touchdown pass in
overtime,” said Mullen, whose teams are now 15-0 when leading after
three quarters. "Fifteen years from now, we're going to remember the
touchdown pass in overtime."
Defensively, senior linebacker
Brandon Wilson totaled a game-high 18 tackles, the most since Titus
Brown was credited with 18 against Arkansas in 2004.