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Auburn Edges #16 Bulldogs, 41-34




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WebsiteAUBURN, Ala. – Weathering one storm didn’t prove to be laborious for Mississippi State. Two storms, however, was just too much to persevere through.On a sun-drenched afternoon in front of 87,451 fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn extended its nation-best winning streak to 17 with a nail-biting 41-34 victory against the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs in the SEC lidlifter for both teams.MSU, which fell to 1-1 and returns home on Thursday at 7 p.m. against No. 2 LSU on ESPN, fell behind by 14 points twice. Mississippi State overcame the first deficit, scoring 21 unanswered points to silence the folks on the Plains en route to a 21-14 advantage.In the second half, however, that wouldn’t be case. Still, the Bulldogs didn’t go down without a valiant fight.Trailing 41-27 in the fourth quarter, MSU closed the gap on 3-yard run up the middle by Vick Ballard to cut the lead to 41-34 with 4:51 to play.And it was then the Bulldogs turned to their defense to get the football back for one more opportunity.Mission accomplished as MSU forced to the Tigers to punt.With 2:52 to play and down by a touchdown, MSU took over at its own 33. In 10 just plays, the Bulldogs marched to the Auburn 2 with 8 seconds left and no timeouts remaining.But on the game’s final play, senior quarterback Chris Relf kept around the left end and was stopped just short of the goal line.The Montgomery, Ala., native finished with 106 yards on the ground to go along with his 195 yards through the air on 20-of-33 passing.Also eclipsing the 100-yard mark was Ballard, who grounded out 135 yards on 21 carries.Ballard also paced the Bulldogs with five receptions for 64 yards, while Brandon Heavens and Michael Carr each had three catches for 46 and 21 yards, respectively.The second half didn’t at all mirror the first, at least in terms of points.The Tigers bolted out to a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game, but the Bulldogs responded with 21 unanswered points to go up 21-14 on a 27-yard interception return by Johnthan Banks, the third of his career.MSU’s first touchdown, though, was the result of a 40-yard end around by LaDarious Perkins on a pitch from Relf with 10:38 left in the first quarter.Then it was Relf’s arm that tied the game when he connected with Brandon Heavens for a 15-yard scoring strike.Auburn, however, wouldn’t be stymied by the Bulldogs’ run. Instead, the Tigers responded two touchdowns in less than four minutes to regain the lead at 28-21. The TDs came on a 46-yard pass across the middle from Barrett Trotter to Emory Blake, followed by 2-yard run by Michael Dyer.The half ended on two field goals, first a 27 yarder by Derek DePasquale while Auburn closed the half on Cody Parkey’s kick of 43 yards.MSU went into the locker room with 246 total yards on 47 plays, while Auburn ran 33 plays for 229 yards. Both teams also combined for 14 penalties.]]]]> ]]>

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