This one truly wasn't over until it was over.
Mississippi State placekicker Adam Carlson's 51-yard field goal on the game's final snap was barely wide left as it sailed toward and away from the Ole Miss student section in the south end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to preserve a 20-17 Rebel victory before 57,658.
And with that, the Golden Egg returned home to Oxford after a year in Starkville. Ole Miss has now won four of the last five Battles for the Golden Egg.
"We've been so close and haven't found a way to win," said Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron after his first Egg Bowl victory in two tries. "Obviously this is a great rivalry and to win the Egg Bowl means a lot to me and the players."
The final moments of this one were drama-filled. The Rebels had taken a 20-10 lead on a punt return for a touchdown. Marshay Green returned a 32-yard Blake McAdams punt 47 yards into the north end zone. The extra point by Joshua Shene was good, and the Rebs were up 10 points with 3:29 to go in the contest. The Bulldogs had it fourth and 3 from their own 15-yard line when McAdams punted.
But this one was far from over.
Mississippi State went right back down field for points of its own. Starting at its own 27 after the Will Moseley kickoff, the Bulldogs rolled quickly down the field for a touchdown. Behind the accurate arm of quarterback Omarr Conner, MSU scored in eight plays when Conner passed to Jason Husband for the touchdown. Carlson converted the extra point, and with 2:20 to go, the Rebs' lead was down to three.
Carlson then tried the onsides kick, but Mico McSwain recovered for the Rebels at the State 46. At that point each team had two timeouts, and MSU chose to take one at that point because of the new clock rules. Three BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushes later, the Rebs had fourth and 1 at the Bulldog 37. But on the next play quaterback Seth Adams was stopped for no gain, and MSU took over. On top of that, the Rebels were called for a personal foul, and State was in business at the UM 48.
The bad news at that point for MSU was that only 37 seconds remained. On first down, Conner passed to Will Prosser for 10 yards and a first down at the UM 38. A Conner pass to Anthony Dixon picked up four yards, followed by two incompletions. On fourth and 6 at the Rebel 34, Carlson booted it for the tie and overtime, but that's when his attempt sailed just left.
"It was a disappointing loss for us and a real positive win for Ole Miss," said MSU head coach Sylvester Croom, 1-2 in Egg Bowl battles now. "I felt like at halftime we had every chance to win this game. We played very well at times. I thought we played physical. Our kicking game was very porous. It's something we need to address in the offseason."
Ole Miss scored first to take a 7-0 lead in the early moments of the contest when starting quarterback Brent Schaeffer connected with Greg Hardy - normally on defense but today also on offense - for a 23-yard touchdown play. Shene connected and UM was up with only three minutes and 58 seconds gone in the contest. The Rebels had started the seven-play drive when Carlson rolled the opening kickoff through the middle of the field, and Ole Miss began at its own 44-yard line.
Carlson for MSU missed on a 31-yard field goal on his team's first drive, but in the second quarter MSU cut the UM lead to 7-3 on a Carlson 41-yard field goal with 12:59 left before halftime.
When Ole Miss got the ball back, the Rebels moved in for more points, this time a 22-yard Shene field goal with 8:30 to go before intermission.
MSU tied things up on its next possession with an 11-play, 80-yard drive with Anthiny Dixon carrying it in from the 2. Carlson was good and it was 10-10 with 2:55 left in the opening half.
After exchanging punts a couple of times, Ole Miss got on the board again with a Shene kick of 20 yards with 2:57 to go in the third period for a 13-10 UM lead.
Besides punt exchanges early in the fourth quarter, Dustin Mouzon made something positive happen for Ole Miss as he intercepted Conner at the MSU 45-yard line with 8:01 left in the game. But the Rebels could do nothing with it, and after punting back to State at its own 8-yard line, the Rebel defense held MSU deep at the 15 three plays later.
That's when McAdams punted to Green for what turned out to be the game-winning points.
Green-Ellis gained 37 net yards to fall one yard short of the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a season. Only two Rebels had ever accomplished that feat - John "Kayo" Dottley twice and Deuce McAllister once.
The game was relatively mistake free from a turnover and penalty standpoint. There were no fumbles, and the lone interception was Conner's which Mouzon picked off. State had four penalties for 25 yards, while Ole Miss had seven for 60 yards.
Mississippi State had 19 first downs to 10 for the Rebels. Ole Miss gained 200 yards with 142 of it through the air. MSU had 314 yards with 162 via the pass.
Schaeffer was 9-of-19 for 131 yards and one touchdown. Adams was 1-for-3 for 11 yards.
Conner was 16-for-31 for 162 yards and a touchdown.
McSwain was the leading Rebel receiver with three catches for 29 yards. Eric Butler paced State with four receptions for 49 yards.
MSU running back Anthony Dixon had 25 carries for 125 yards and a score. He had 97 yards on 16 carries at halftime.
Ole Miss ended the season 4-8 overall and 2-6 in Southeastern Conference play. MSU concluded the year 3-9 and 1-7.
Ole Miss wins Egg Bowl over State
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