Clint Stoerner and the Arkansas offense got the help they needed from their defensive pals.
Stoerner completed 7-of-10 passes on one touchdown drive and threw a 33-yard pass to Anthony Lucas to set up a second TD as No. 22 Arkansas beat No. 12 Mississippi State 14-9 on Saturday night.
"We only had two drives," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "We couldn't get anything going at times and that was frustrating."
"I thought our defense did a marvelous job to hold 'em, hold 'em, hold 'em," Nutt said.
Arkansas (7-3, 4-3 SEC) remained in the running for the Cotton Bowl by winning for the fifth time in its last six games, including 28-24 over Tennessee a week ago.
Stoerner passed for 62 yards on Arkansas' first touchdown drive, including a 9-yarder to Emmanuel Smith for the score with 21 seconds left in the half. Smith caught five passes on the 71-yard drive. Stoerner's pass to Lucas came three plays before Cedric Cobbs hurtled into the end zone from the 3 for a 14-6 lead.
Mississippi State also is headed for a bowl, with the Bulldogs' Thanksgiving game with Mississippi (7-3) will playing a role in their destination.
The Bulldogs, who opened the season 8-0, were eliminated from the Southeastern Conference championship game when Alabama beat Auburn earlier Saturday night.
Mississippi State's scoring consisted of Scott Westerfield field goals of 35, 42 and 24 the last with 6:37 to play. The Bulldogs settled for three points after Jamel Harris, unblocked, dumped Justin Griffith for a 2-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 from the Arkansas 5.
"If you get into the red zone and can't get touchdowns, you can't expect to win," Wyatt said.
Mississippi State had three chances in the third quarer, but managed only a field goal. The first opportunity ended when Dontae Walker and quarterback Wayne Madkin missed connections on a handoff and Green recovered. Moments later, Fred Smoot picked off Stoerner's pass and returned it to the Arkansas 14, but a penalty wiped out the return and the Bulldogs started from their 44. They did not make a first down.
Westerfield's 42-yard field goal was set up by Pig Prather's 33-yard punt return to midfield and Madkin's 19-yard pass to Kelvin Love. Westerfield's kick cut it to 7-6 with 1:06 left in the third quarter.
Arkansas' first TD drive began when Stoerner looked left and then found Lucas on the right sideline for 16 yards.
After two more first downs, Arkansas had 2nd-and-10 at the Bulldogs' 27. Under pressure, Stoerner found Smith hanging around the line of scrimmage and Smith turned the dump pass into an 11-yard gain.
On first down, Stoerner beat another blitz with a quick pass to Smith for 7 yards. On third down, Stoerner moved fullback Nathan Norman to the left side and tailback Cedric Cobbs to the right to help with pass protection. Eugene Clinton tried to cover Smith, split left, but Smith got inside position on a slant pattern and Stoerner was perfect.
The Bulldogs' only first-half score came on their second possession.
Madkin threw 10 yards to Larry Huntington and ran for 8 and 11 as the Bulldogs made three straight first downs. After an incomplete pass and a 5-yard penalty, the Bulldogs settled for Westerfield's 35-yard field goal.
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