No. 2 Alabama Football Edges No. 16 Mississippi State, 31-24, in Back-and-Forth Thriller
Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts found freshman wide receiver DeVonta Smith for the 26-yard game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds left in the game, as the No. 2-ranked University of Alabama football team edged No. 16 Mississippi State, 31-24, in a back-and-forth thriller at Davis Wade Stadium Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide improve to 10-0 overall, and 7-0 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Bulldogs drop to 7-3 on the season and 3-3 in SEC play.
Hurts led the Tide offense with 282 total yards, including going 10-of-19 for 242 yards, and the game-winning touchdown pass, and rushing for 40 yards on 19 carries and a score. Junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley fell just three yards short of tying his career-high, with 171 yards on five catches, earning him his seventh career 100-yard game.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive back Hootie Jones led the way with a career-high 10 tackles, to go along with one pass breakup. Senior linebacker Rashaan Evans tallied nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
The two teams traded punts to start the game, before Mississippi State put points on the board, driving 57 yards in six plays, capped by an 11-yard touchdown run to take the 7-0 lead with 3:37 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Alabama offense responded less than two minutes later, when Hurts found Ridley who gashed the Mississippi State defense with a 63-yard pitch-and-catch to set the Tide up at the MSU five-yard line. Two plays later, Hurts found the end zone by streaking to the outside for a one-yard touchdown run. Following senior placekicker Andy Pappanastos’ extra point, the game was locked at 7-7 with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
Following the UA touchdown drive, the Bulldogs answered with another score, going 73 yards on 11 plays, finishing the possession with a five-yard touchdown run to take the 14-7 lead with 10:39 left in the first half.
For the second time in the game, the Crimson Tide offense only needed a little over a minute to drive down the field with the Hurts-to-Ridley connection again, this time the two connected for a 63-yard gain before Ridley was knocked out-of-bounds at the MSU one-yard line. On the next play, sophomore running back Josh Jacobs scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. Following the Pappanastos kick, the game was tied at 14-14 with 9:26 remaining before halftime.
The two teams were held scoreless for the remainder of the half, with Alabama edging Mississippi State in total yards, 191-172, through the first two quarters.
Coming out of halftime, the Crimson Tide quickly drove down the field after junior running back Damien Harris broke free for a 48-yard gain to set the ball at the MSU nine-yard line. Four plays later, Pappanastos converted the 30-yard field goal attempt to give the Tide the lead for the first time in the game with 12:33 left in the third quarter.
Mississippi State then took the ball down the field, covering 69 yards on 13 plays, finishing with quarterback Nick Fitzgerald finding the end zone from two yards out. The Bulldogs led 21-17 with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter.
After a Crimson Tide punt, the Bulldogs scored for the second-consecutive drive, going 56 yards on 10 plays, finishing with a 25-yard field goal to make the score 24-17 with 14:13 left in the game.
The Crimson Tide offense answered once again, with Hurts scampering 13 yards on a crucial fourth-and-five from the MSU 34-yard line to keep the Tide drive alive and the perfect 12-for-12 fourth down conversion rate this season intact.
Two plays later, Harris busted through the middle for a 14-yard touchdown run. Following the Pappanastos kick, the game was tied for the third time at 24-24 with 9:49 left in regulation.
After a Mississippi State punt and an Alabama missed field goal with 2:03 left in the game, the Tide defense came up big by forcing a quick three-and-out to get the ball back with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On the second play of the drive with the ball at the UA 32-yard line, Hurts hooked up with Ridley again, this time for 15 yards and a first down. Three plays later, Hurts found Ridley again for a 31-yard gain, setting the ball at the MSU 26-yard line. On the next play, Hurts found Smith who spun out of a tackle and sprinted into the end zone for the go-ahead 26-yard touchdown. After the Pappanastos point after attempt, the Tide led 31-24 with 25 seconds on the clock.
With tonight’s win, Alabama has now won 22 consecutive SEC regular season contests (not including SEC Championship Games) dating back to a 38-10 win at Georgia on Oct. 3, 2015, the second-longest streak in school history.
Alabama returns to action Saturday, Nov. 18 against Mercer at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will air on the SEC Network at 11 a.m. CT.