State beats Rebs

Published 12:01 am Sunday, November 27, 2011

STARKVILLE (AP) — Vick Ballard rushed for 144 yards and scored two touchdowns, LaDarius Perkins added two more touchdowns and Mississippi State easily beat Mississippi 31-3 on Saturday night in the Egg Bowl.

Mississippi State (6-6, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) now has a three-game winning streak in the Egg Bowl for the first time since 1942 and also earned bowl eligibility for the second straight season.

Ole Miss (2-10, 0-8) finished a miserable season that included 10 losses for the first time in program history and ends coach Houston Nutt’s four-year tenure. Nutt’s resignation was announced on Nov. 7, but he remained to coach the last three games, which the Rebels lost by a combined score of 110-13.

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Nutt ends with a 24-26 overall record at Ole Miss, including a 10-22 mark in conference games. The Rebels have lost 14 straight SEC games.

Third-year Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has injected new life into the rivalry since his arrival in Starkville, with a smack-talking persona that’s been backed up with dominant victories. The Bulldogs unveiled new uniforms for Saturday’s game, with gold numbers, gold shoes and the phrase ‘Hail State’ replacing each player’s last name on the back of the jersey.

From the very first snap, it was evident Mississippi State was the better and more motivated team. Relf rushed for 12 yards on the first play and then 17 more on the second as the Bulldogs methodically moved downfield. The 11-play, 68-yard drive ended on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Relf to Ballard that gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.

Mississippi State stretched its lead to 21-0 by halftime on a 36-yard run by Perkins and then a 20-yard pass from Relf to Perkins. To seal any doubt, Ballard rushed for a 25-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to push the lead to 28-0.

Relf didn’t have to throw much, but was effective when he did, completing 8 of 13 passes for 70 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Ole Miss never could get moving on offense. Its only sustained drive lasted 12 plays and 47 yards before Bryson Rose kicked a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter. Enrique Davis rushed for 32 yards on 12 carries while Donte Moncrief caught four passes for 20 yards.

The game had a fitting ending, with Ole Miss quarterback Barry Brunetti leveled at the 3-yard line by the Mississippi State defense as he was trying to score a touchdown. The Davis Wade Stadium crowd roared its approval as the Bulldogs stormed the field and Mullen raised the Egg Bowl trophy above his head.