Six turnovers and two fourth down conversions. That’s what it took for Mississippi State to beat #23 Tennessee at Scott Field back in 1994.
Freshman QB Peyton Manning replaced Todd Helton who was pulled with an injury, and Manning started hot -immediately connected on a 76-yard TD pass. He added another before halftime and the Volunteers held a 14-7 lead headed to the locker room.
But it all fell apart for new coach Phil Fulmer and the Volunteers in the second half. Two Manning interceptions and FOUR lost fumbles by the Volunteers were just enough for the Bulldogs to pull out the win.
With just under 4 minutes left in the game, Mississippi State recovered Aaron Hayden’s fumble at midfield – the fourth consecutive Tennessee drive that ended on a turnover.
After Eric Moulds hauled in two first down receptions, and State was sitting at the 28 yardline.
Two deep incompletions and a failed scramble set up 4th and 12 from the 30.
Taite took a 3-step drop out of shotgun and got hammered by two different defenders as he heaved the ball down the left sideline. Moulds came back towards the ball, leapt, and caught the pass for a first down at the 8.
After a couple of celebratory shoulder-pops by Moulds, State got set at the line of scrimmage. First and goal. Bruising running back Michael Davis ran up the middle to the 5.
Second and goal. Taite threw a corner route to Moulds in the right side of the endzone. Incomplete.
Third and goal. Davis carried again to the two.
Fourth and goal, shotgun formation. Taite faked a handoff to Michael Davis, and the entire defense bit and ran left. Taite rolled right and lofted it to Kendall Watkins, who was wide open in the endzone. TOUCHDOWN.
MSU 24, Tennessee 21, with 36 seconds left to play.
Tennessee outgained State 464 yards to 294, but the Bulldogs won the turnover battle and secured one of the best wins in Scott Field history. Certainly, one of the most memorable final drives. And you gotta love that shoulder-popping Eric Moulds.