Bulldogs blitz Ole Miss in Egg Bowl highlighted by third-quarter brawl

Published 11:01 pm Thursday, November 22, 2018

OXFORD (AP) — Mississippi State and Ole Miss turned their in-state rivalry into a backyard brawl.
Nick Fitzgerald ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score to lead No. 22 Mississippi State over Ole Miss 35-3 on Thursday night in an Egg Bowl marred by a fight that led to four ejections in the second half.

Mississippi State was cruising toward a fairly uneventful win before Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown appeared to score a touchdown at the end of the third quarter. Players immediately started shoving, and the fight spilled into the end zone while both benches emptied onto the field. Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral had his helmet ripped off in one skirmish.

Mississippi State’s Cameron Dantzler, Jamal Peters and Willie Gay Jr. were ejected, along with Ole Miss’ C.J. Moore.

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Brown and Mississippi State safety Jonathan Abram both escaped ejection despite throwing punches at each other.

Every player on both teams received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Gay was ejected because he already had one unsportsmanlike penalty earlier in the game.

Brown’s touchdown was called back because time had expired in the third quarter before the play began. The Rebels didn’t seriously threaten again.

Mississippi State first-year coach Joe Moorhead said the fight didn’t take away from the win.

“I’m happy as a lark right now,” he explained. “Certainly you don’t want to see that stuff. I really can’t comment on everything that happened because I didn’t see it and I was trying to keep guys on the sideline. We’ll look at the film and see what happened.

“But certainly, we want our play to be between the whistles and we want our execution and our effort to be what’s talked about.”

As for the game, Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) won by sticking to what it’s done best all year: running the ball effectively and playing terrific defense. The Bulldogs gained 122 rushing yards in the first quarter to set the tone and built a 14-0 lead by early in the second quarter.

Fitzgerald ran for 117 yards on 18 carries. Kylin Hill added 108 rushing yards.
Ole Miss (5-7, 1-7) ended the season on a five-game losing streak. It was ineligible for a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions, but missed a chance to finish .500.

The Rebels’ passing offense — which has been among the best in the SEC — never got going against the Bulldogs. The running game generated only 37 yards on 29 attempts.

Jordan Ta’amu completed just 8 of 17 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Ta’amu injured his hand early in the game and did not play after the first series of the second half. His backup Corral was 5-of-8 for 65 yards and threw one interception on a deep ball into the end zone.

Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said the team’s turnovers and dropped passes were too much to overcome.

“Hate for our seniors to go out this way because they have been through so much,” Luke said. “But I’m really, really grateful to them.”