Bama breaks Bulldogs’ hearts

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017

STARKVILLE (AP) — Mississippi State put up a better fight than it had in a decade against Alabama. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Tide rolled away and left the Bulldogs’ hearts broken yet again.

Jalen Hurts hit DeVonta Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left to lift No. 1 Alabama over No. 18 Mississippi State 31-24 on Saturday night.

Alabama (10-0, 7-0 SEC, CFP No. 2) won its 10th straight game against Mississippi State, but this one was much more difficult than most of the others.

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Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3, CFP No. 16) pushed ahead 24-17 early in the fourth quarter on Jace Christmann’s 25-yard field goal, but Alabama responded to tie it at 24 when Damien Harris ran for a 14-yard score with 9:49 left. Alabama had a chance to take the lead with about two minutes left, but a 40-yard field goal attempt by Andy Pappanastos banged off the left upright and fell harmlessly to the turf.

Mississippi State went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and Alabama took over with 1:09 remaining. That was more than enough time for the Tide, who drove six plays and 68 yards in 44 seconds for the game-winning score.

Hurts completed 10 of 19 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. Calvin Ridley caught five passes for 171 yards.

Alabama’s defense has been dominant for most of the season, but several injuries at linebacker throughout the season finally took a toll. MSU’s power running game gained 172 yards, but in the end Alabama was able to slow the Bulldogs down.

The Bulldogs did just about everything right except for win the game. Nick Fitzgerald completed 13 of 24 passes for 158 yards and ran for 66 yards and a touchdown. Aeris Williams ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Williams’ 11-yard TD run in the first quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead against the Tide since 2008.