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Mississippi State grinds out OT win against Arkansas

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Courtesy Mississippi State Athletics/Arkansas Athletics

LITTLE ROCK, AR - It took overtime to secure the victory, but Mississippi State found a way to win on the road Saturday, beating Arkansas 24-17.

The Bulldogs (5-6, 2-5 SEC) kept bowl hopes alive with the win, while Arkansas (3-8, 0-6) lost its eighth straight game after opening this season 3-0.

True freshman Bulldog quarterback Damian Williams scored the winning touchdown for the Bulldogs on the first play of overtime, a 25-yard scamper up the middle. Sophomore cornerback Taveze Calhoun sealed the win by intercepting the Razorbacks on fourth down on the potential game-tying possession for the Hogs.

Sophomore running back Josh Robinson led the way for MSU offensively, racking up 101 yards on the ground despite only playing in the second half. Signal caller Tyler Russell, named the starting quarterback shortly before the game, put up a gritty effort despite his injury from last week. He completed 18-of-28 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Junior receiver Jameon Lewis made a big return to the stat book, catching six passes for 84 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Bulldogs forced two fumbles and racked up seven tackles for loss. Senior safety Nickoe Whitley, in addition to a forced and recovered fumble, led the team with 10 tackles.

The Razorbacks scored on the game's opening drive, going 56 yards in eight plays and converting both third-down attempts on the drive. Javontee Herndon capped off the drive by taking the end-around and scoring on the left side from eight yards out to give Arkansas the early 7-0 lead.

Zach Hocker helped the Razorbacks extend their lead to 10-0 midway through the second quarter, converting on a 54-yard field goal. The kick marked the eighth-longest in school history and the longest since Kendall Trainor converted from 58 yards against Miami in 1988.

The Bulldogs responded with 10 unanswered points of their own in the second quarter, first converting a 24-yard field goal and then scoring again on a 30-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 10-10.

Jonathan Williams led all Razorbacks rushers with 59 yards on eight carries, while Alex Collins set the Arkansas freshman record for carries (179) and finished the game with 52 yards. Herndon and Julian Horton each recorded the first rushing touchdowns of their careers in the game.