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No. 2 Alabama escapes Mississippi State upset bid

Sports Xchange

November 11, 2017 at 9:22 pm.

Nov 11, 2017; Starkville, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) runs the ball past Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons (94) during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Photo Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 11, 2017; Starkville, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) runs the ball past Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons (94) during the fourth quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Photo Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A 30-game regular-season winning streak was in danger of being snapped on Saturday night for No. 2 Alabama.

No. 16 Mississippi State put a jolt in the Crimson Tide before two fourth-quarter scores had Alabama sneaking out with a 31-24 win to remain unbeaten.

The Bulldogs ate up 38:16 of the clock but the Crimson Tide (10-0, 7-0 SEC) needed just 44 seconds to win the game as Jalen Hurts found DeVonta Smith on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left in the game for the win.

With top-ranked Georgia losing to Auburn earlier in the day, Alabama is poised to move back to No. 1.

Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3) rushed for 172 yards in the game, the most by a Dan Mullen team vs. Alabama. Aeris Williams had 22 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

The game was tied at 14 at the half thanks to two rushing touchdowns by each team. The Bulldogs struck first with Williams scoring from 11 yards out. Calvin Ridley’s 61-yard catch set up Hurts’ 1-yard run on the following possession for a 7-7 tie at the end of one quarter.

The teams traded blows again in the second as Williams scored again on a 5-yard plunge, but Alabama answered once again with a 1-yard touchdown by Josh Jacobs.

The Crimson Tide came out of the half with a quick score, getting the ball inside the 10-yard line before being held to a 30-yard field goal from Andy Pappanastos giving the Tide its first lead at 17-14.

It was Mississippi State with the answer this time, as the Bulldogs drove 69 yards on 13 plays and Nick Fitzgerald scored on a 2-yard run for a 21-17 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Kicker Jace Christmann extended that lead on a 25-yard kick and the Bulldogs were on top 24-17 with 14 minutes left in the game.

Hurts led his team right down the field, converting a big fourth-down play and getting the ball inside the 15. That’s where Damien Harris scored from 14 yards away to tie the game at 24 with 9:49 remaining.

Pappanastos missed a 41-yard field goal with over two minutes left but the Crimson Tide forced a three-and-out and got the ball back. Hurts converted two straight big pass plays to get Alabama 57 yards down the field and win the game.

The Crimson Tide rushed for 202 yards in the game, with 120 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Hurts was 10 of 19 passing for 242 yards and a touchdown. Ridley led the way with 171 yards on five catches while Harris rushed for 93 yards on eight carries.

NOTES: Mississippi State’s three rushing touchdowns were the most an offense has scored on a Nick Saban team at Alabama. … It was the first time in 37 games that Alabama had not forced a turnover. … Alabama has won 31 straight regular-season games dating to 2015.

 

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