Another heartbreaking loss for No. 9 Arkansas. Another chance for Mississippi State.
Senior Brian Hazelwood kicked a school-record five field goals Saturday, his last a 27-yarder with seven seconds left as Mississippi State upset the Razorbacks 22-21, taking control of the Southeastern Conference West race.
"I told the guys this was our last chance ... our last play on this field, let's go out with a bang," said Hazelwood, whose game-winning kick set off a celebration that left Scott Field without goalposts.
"There is a big party going on. But we still have one more game left. We haven't won this thing yet."
But the Bulldogs (7-3, 5-2 SEC) are a step closer than in 1997, when needing only to beat Arkansas and Mississippi to win their first SEC West title, they lost both.
Mississippi State wins the SEC West if it can win at Ole Miss on Thursday night, or if Arkansas (8-2, 5-2) loses at LSU the following day.
In an eight-day span, Arkansas went from 8-0 to needing help to win its second division title in four years. The Razorbacks lost 28-24 at top-ranked Tennessee in the final minute last week.
"I'm still in shock. It's hard to swallow. We now are playing on hope," said Arkansas tailback Madre Hill.
"This is a tough and difficult loss. We were very close and it is just going to be a tough loss to get over," said first-year Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "There is a fine line between winning and losing when you get down to this point. Obviously, we could not find that line."
| Mississippi State tight end Reggie Kely grabs a first-quarter touchdown pass. (AP) |
Mississippi State got the victory with a 44-yard drive on which freshman quarterback Wayne Madkin -- still woozy from a hit on the previous drive that forced him out of the game for several plays -- had completions to convert third-and-18 and later fourth-and-15.
On third-and-18 from his 38, Madkin somehow broke from the grasp of defensive tackle D.J. Cooper and found Kelvin Love, who stretched out for the first down.
Senior center Eric Allen didn't really know what was going on behind him, but knew by the cheering that Miller was still up and running.
"It was an athletic play by him each time," Allen said. "I figured something was going on ... I was trying to find someone else to hit."
After three incompletions and a penalty, Madkin again rolled left away from pressure and hit Kevin Cooper for an 18-yard gain to the Arkansas 31. Three runs by Chris Rainey for 21 yards set up the game-winning kick.
"I wasn't going to let them get me down," Madkin said. "I had made some bad throws and wanted to make it up to the guys."
Madkin -- who was 16-of-31 passing for 224 yards -- threw both of his interceptions in the second half, the first by Zac Painter that led to Arkansas' only lead.
Four players after Painter's pick, Clint Stoerner threw his third TD pass, a 30-yarder to Anthony Lucas that put the Razorbacks ahead 21-19.
Before the game-winning drive, Mississippi State's other two fourth- quarter drives ended on interceptions. Jerony Flowers intercepted Madkin and Harry Wilson picked off backup quarterback Rob Morgan with 4:43 left.
But Arkansas failed to get a first down after Wilson's interception and the Bulldogs drove to win the game -- even without SEC rushing leader James Johnson, out with a groin injury. Johnson is expected to play Thursday.
Mississippi State jumped ahead 7-0 when Madkin hit Reginald Kelly for a 8-yard TD on the game's eighth play.
Arkansas gained just 41 yards on its first 21 plays and trailed 16-0 midway through the second quarter. Stoerner then hit Michael Williams, who made a basket catch on the sideline for a 27-yard gain. Three plays later, it was the same combination for a 30-yard TD.
Stoerner, the least-sacked quarterback in the SEC before Saturday, was hit just as he threw to Williams, who extended his left arm to make the catch while running into the end zone.
After a punt, Arkansas needed just three plays to go 68 yards for a touchdown. Stoerner again found Williams, who leaped to make a 14-yard TD catch between two defenders.
Stoerner, who was 14-of-23 for 213 yards, was sacked and fumbled late in the first half. That allowed Hazelwood to kick his fourth field goal, a 48-yarder on the final play of the half that put State ahead 19-14.
Hazelwood earlier had field goals of 21, 18 and 21 yards -- the last after Anthony Derricks intrcepted a pass and returned it 59 yards to the 4.
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