STARKVILLE, Miss. — The No. 16 Mississippi State football team outgained Arkansas by 125 yards (400 to 275), but it was the visiting Razorbacks that came out on top, 21-14, Saturday evening inside Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs fall to 1-1, while the Razorbacks improve to 1-1 and pick up their first Southeastern Conference win in 20 games. Arkansas last won an SEC game 1,071 days ago on Oct. 28, 2017.
The 16th-ranked Bulldogs entered the day with their highest ranking since Sept. 16, 2018, when they were ranked No. 14.
The Razorbacks can thank another strong showing by their defense and Bulldog miscues for their victory. Quarterback K.J. Costello completed 43 of 59 passes for 313 yards and a touchdown, but he threw three interceptions.
Freshman running back Jo’quavious Marks, who played in replace of an injured Kylin Hill, rushed the ball 10 times for 37 yards and also caught 10 balls for 50 yards. Freshman running back Dillon Johnson led the team with 39 yards rushing and a touchdown on nine carries.
Senior receiver Osirus Mitchell hauled in five balls for a team-high 61 yards, while freshman wide receiver Jaden Walley and Johnson added to the air game with 56 yards receiving and 35 yards receiving, respectively. Senior receiver JaVonta Payton finished with two catches for 23 yards and the Bulldogs’ lone receiving TD.
Defensively, the Bulldogs surrendered 212 yards passing and two touchdowns from fifth-year senior quarterback Feleipe Franks. The Bulldogs allowed 100 yards receiving by senior wide receiver De’Vion Warren.
Senior linebacker Erroll Thompson continues to anchor the defense as he finished with 13 tackles. Sophomore cornerback Martin Emerson followed with eight tackles.
The Razorbacks had junior linebacker Bumper Pool (20), fifth-year senior linebacker Grant Morgan (15) and redshirt freshman defensive back Jalen Catalon (13) all finish with double-digit tackles. Junior defensive back Joe Foucha recorded two tackles and two interceptions, while sophomore defensive back Greg Brooks Jr. finished with five tackles and a 69-yard pick-six.
Brooks got the Razorbacks on the board first when he intercepted Costello at the Arkansas 31-yard line and returned it 69 yards for a score.
The Bulldogs then responded with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 17-yard TD pass to Payton to make it 7-7 with 3:59 left in the first quarter.
Franks then found Warren for a 19-yard touchdown connection to take a 14-7 lead. The score stayed the same into the halftime break.
Arkansas took the second half kickoff and quickly covered 75 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown when Franks found sophomore tight end Hudson Henry for a 12-yard score to put the Razorbacks up 21-7.
Johnson then brought the Bulldogs within a touchdown when he capped off a 14-play, 76-yard drive with a 6-yard TD scamper with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
On State’s first drive of the fourth quarter, Costello threw his third interception of the night. On the next drive, Arkansas coughed up the football at its own 21-yard line and it was recovered by sophomore linebacker Aaron Brule, but Costello’s fourth-and-1 pass fell incomplete and Arkansas took over at its own 13.
The Bulldog defense held Arkansas to three plays again, and Walley’s punt return put MSU back on Arkansas’ end of the field. But the Bulldogs failed again on fourth-and-1 when they tried to get it on the ground with Marks.
The Bulldogs forced a final punt and a final chance to win, but Walley fumbled the punt and handed the victory to the Razorbacks.
The Bulldogs will be back in action Saturday when they travel to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.