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By: Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
STARKVILLE, Miss. – No. 19 Mississippi State wanted to validate its undefeated record against Tennessee on Saturday night, and the Bulldogs did just that with a 41-31 win over the Volunteers. Malcolm Johnson sealed the win for MSU with nine seconds remaining when he snagged a touchdown pass from Tyler Russell with one hand to put the Vols away.
Tyler Bray brought Tennessee (3-3, 0-3 SEC) within three points with just over five minutes left in the game when he connected with Ben Bartholomew for a 10-yard score. Unfortunately for the Vols, Russell connected with his go-to receiver Chad Bumphis twice on Mississippi State’s final scoring drive to run out most of the clock and extend the Bulldogs’ lead.
Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0) led by 13 at half after controlling the ball for 22:44 and outgaining Tennessee by 196 yards in the first 30 minutes. The Vols battled back in the second half and finished with 361 total yards, but the Bulldogs made the plays they needed to make down the stretch to escape with their sixth win.
Russell tossed two touchdowns on the game and now has 12 total touchdowns and only one interception on the year. LaDarius Perkins crossed the century mark on the ground for MSU with 101 yards and a score. The Bulldogs defense limited Bray – the SEC’s leading passer – to just 148 yards through the air while forcing an interception.
Passing – Tyler Russell, 23-for-37, 291 yards, 2 TD
Rushing – LaDarius Perkins, 23 car, 101 yards, TD
Receiving – Chad Bumphis, 7 rec, 93 yards
Passing – Tyler Bray, 13-for-24, 148 yards, 2 TD, INT
Rushing – Dervin Young, 13 car, 58 yards
Receiving – Justin Hunter, 2 rec, 41 yards
• Mississippi State has now won eight consecutive games.
• MSU, which forced two turnovers and committed zero, is now 21-1 under Dan Mullen when winning the turnover battle.
• MSU’s 142 yards rushing marks the first time all season that it has failed to hit the 150-yard mark in that category.
• This was Tennessee’s first 9 p.m. kickoff since Oct. 16, 2002.