Arkansas bullies the Bulldogs

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 20, 2016

STARKVILLE (AP) — Rawleigh Williams almost single-handedly brought Mississippi State’s six-year bowl streak to an end.

The Arkansas running back ran for 205 yards and four touchdowns and also threw for a touchdown to lead the Razorbacks over Mississippi State 58-42 on Saturday night.

With the loss, Mississippi State (4-7, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) was denied a chance to reach six wins and become bowl eligible by beating Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl next week.

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Mississippi State will finish with its first losing record since head coach Dan Mullen’s first season in 2009. It had won 19 games over the last two seasons, and was ranked No. 1 in the country for a month during the 2014 season.

“We’ve had opportunities throughout the year to go do it and we’ve come up short. We’d lose games on the final play of the game. So the odds went against us this year,” Mullen said. “It’s disappointing, but we’ve got a big game next week. We’ve got to respond and come out and play hard next week.”

The Arkansas offense did just about anything it wanted against Mississippi State, gaining 661 total yards. The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Williams was easily the Razorbacks’ biggest star, running for touchdowns of 72, 42, 7 and 33 yards — all in the first half.

“The holes were huge,” Williams said with a wide grin. “It just felt like I was running straight. I didn’t have to do too much.”

Then to top off his big night, Williams took a handoff in the third quarter and stopped short of the line of scrimmage before jumping in the air and tossing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Austin Cantrell.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema enjoyed watching Williams’ touchdown pass, but it was a strong stiff arm during his 42-yard touchdown that slammed a Mississippi State defender to the ground that really caught his attention.

“He played with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder,” Bielema said. “Played with a purpose.”

Arkansas (7-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) broke a four-game losing streak to Mississippi State. Austin Allen completed 18 of 25 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns for the Razorbacks.
Mississippi State had a big night on offense as well.

Nick Fitzgerald ran for 131 yards and four touchdowns and also threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns, but the Bulldogs could never hold the Razorbacks long enough to climb back into the game after falling into a 38-14 hole by halftime.

Mississippi State receiver Fred Ross caught 10 passes for a career-high 171 yards and two touchdowns.
But all those big numbers didn’t matter because the Bulldogs’ defense couldn’t make a stop. It’s the second straight week MSU given up at least 50 points.

“We missed tackles, had some bad fits, didn’t execute clean,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “When you give up that many yards it’s not one thing. It’s several things.”