#19 Mississippi State Bests Tennessee 41-31; Improves To 6-0
Instead, with his team leading just 34-31, Dan Mullen called one of the more memorable plays of his MSU tenure as Tyler Russell put an exclamation point on his career night with a 9-yard scoring strike to Malcolm Johnson in the back of the end zone.
Before you could say ballgame, the raucous crowd of 57,831 erupted with just 9 ticks left on the clock as the 19th-ranked Bulldogs held on to post an emotional and electrifying 41-31 victory against Tennessee to keep their unblemished record intact at 6-0.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak to the Volunteers, dating back to 1994.
As for Russell, his final line read 23-of-27 passing for 291 yards. All career highs.
But if there were game balls to be handed out, Russell would have to share the spotlight with running back LaDarious Perkins, who rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries.
However, none were bigger than his 1-yard dive with 7:58 remaining to give MSU a 34-24 lead to slow Tennessee's momentum that led to 10-straight points to close a 27-14 deficit to just 27-24 with an 11-yard Tyler Bray touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson.
Yet, Perkins' score was magnified even more as Bray hit Ben Bartholomew for a 10-yard scoring strike moments later to make it 34-31.
Still, it was a game the Bulldogs, who now stand at 3-0 in SEC play, led most of the way.
MSU, which plays host to Middle Tennessee State at 6 p.m. next Saturday, took the early lead on a 31-yard Devon Bell field goal.
The Vols, though, answered on their ensuing possession with a 6-yard Rajion Neal touchdown run for a 7-3 advantage.
But Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) wouldn't fold.
Instead, the Vols battled right back and cut the lead to 17-14 on Patterson's 98-yard kickoff return. The final points of the half belonged to MSU, though, thanks to Bell's 24-yard field goal and Russell hooking up with Green from 7 yards out.
On the night, MSU finished with 450 total yards of offense, while Tennessee manufactured 361. Defensively, Benardrick McKinney paced the Bulldogs with 14 tackles. MSU also forced two turnovers, a fumble recovery by All-American candidate Johnthan Banks and an interception by Corey Broomfield.
Bank's fumble recovery set up Perkins' touchdown run with 7:58 to play.