GAMEDAY BLOG: Arkansas manages to close out 21-14 win over MSU

Arkansas’ defense made a big play early as Greg Brooks hauled in a pass thrown directly to him by Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello, returning it 69 yards for a score.

The streak is over.

Arkansas managed to hang on in Starkville on Saturday night for a 21-14 win to break a 20-game losing streak in the SEC.

Can Arkansas figure out how to win a game?

They go into the fourth quarter in Starkville with a 21-14 lead, but Mississippi State is driving and continuing to gain ground in small chunks, but keep the chains moving.

The Bulldogs have the ball in Arkansas territory starting the final quarter.

The biggest question may be if the defense can get at least one stop.

Hudson Henry got wide open and Feleipe Franks delivered a 12-yard pass to complete a scoring drive to open the second half and give Arkansas a 21-7 lead, but Mississippi State answered quickly.

It was Henry’s first touchdown with the Razorbacks.

It’s a good bet Barry Odom got ahold of some film of Mississippi State coach Mike Leach’s problems against Washington when he was coaching at Washington State.

It’s pretty simple. Rush three, drop eight into coverage and get the guy with the ball on ground by cutting his feet out from under him.

That’s exactly what Arkansas did in the first half to take a 14-7 lead into halftime that probably should have been considerably more.

The Razorbacks had just one turnover, Feleipe Franks managed the game at quarterback and Trelon Smith stepped up when Rakeem Boyd was injured and left the field.

But the key has been the defensive game plan that was executed perfectly in the first half.

The Bulldogs had 163 passing yards and 206 overall but they weren’t able to get the big plays like they did against LSU.

If there is reason for Hog fans to be concerned it’s Boyd, wide receiver Treylon Burks and Grant Morgan being dinged.

No statuses available yet on any of them.

After getting stopped near the Mississippi State goal, the defense (that is playing lights-out) got a stop and Feleipe Franks looked like he did at times at Florida.

With Rakeem Boyd in the medical tent, the Hogs drove 69 yards in eight plays with Franks finding De’Vion Warren without a defender in the same zip code for a 19-yard scoring play.

Arkansas goes back on top of the 16th-ranked Bulldogs, 14-7.

The Hogs decided to go with redshirt freshman K.J. Jefferson in the red zone against Mississippi State after moving it downfield and he couldn’t produce points.

On fourth-and-goal from the 2, Jefferson tried the middle and ended up fumbling, giving it back to the Bulldogs.

In what was thought to be a high-scoring affair, it’s starting off bumpy, but the Hogs’ offense has managed to get to 100 yards … but couldn’t convert in the Red Zone.

It’s 7-7 with 10:29 to go in the second quarter as State takes over.

But Mississippi State answered on the next series, going 76 yards in 14 plays with Dillon Johnson scoring on a fourth-and-1 from the 6 to cut the lead to 21-14.

The Hogs’ defense did make the Bulldogs use 7:21 of the third quarter on the drive.

Now the Arkansas offense has to answer or this is going to get interesting quickly.

Mississippi State has held onto the ball for nearly the entire first quarter as Arkansas’ offense may finally get on the field for the first time with less than four minutes to go in the period.

Razorbacks defensive coordinator Barry Odom has gone with a zone pass protection and the Bulldogs have just hit crossing routes and converted a pair of fourth-down runs.

Quarterback K.J. Costello scrambled out of the pocket and found JaVonta Payton in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard scoring play with 3:59 to play in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7.

Arkansas’ defense made a big play early as Greg Brooks hauled in a pass thrown directly to him by Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello, returning it 69 yards for a score.

The Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and managed to get 39 yards, including getting a break when running back Kylin Hill appeared to fumble and the Razorbacks’ Bumper Pool jumped on it.

Review apparently didn’t think it saw enough evidence to call it a fumble, then Costello tried one of the crossing routes that had been working for State and completely missed anybody in a maroon jersey.

Brooks made the catch and was untouched down the left sideline for the score and a 7-0 lead with 3:16 gone in the first quarter.

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