By CHRIS TALBOTT
Associated Press Writer
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Adam Carlson hit a 48-yard field goal with 18 seconds left and Mississippi State likely clinched its first bowl appearance since 2000 with a stunning 17-14 win over Mississippi on Friday in the Egg Bowl.
The Bulldogs looked as if their season would end on a downbeat after falling behind their fiercest rival 14-0 with a lackluster effort through three quarters. But Derek Pegues returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown to tie the score and Wes Carroll completed nine passes for 102 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Carroll set up Carlson's career-long kick with a key 11-yard run and a 17-yard completion in the final minute.
Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom capped the win by taking a victory lap around the field carrying a 10-foot school flag.
The win means a likely appearance in the Liberty or Independence bowls for the Bulldogs (7-5, 4-4), who clinched bowl eligibility two weeks ago. They needed another win because 10 Southeastern Conference teams have six or more victories and the conference doesn't have 10 guaranteed postseason slots.
The loss kept the Rebels (3-9, 0-8) winless in conference play for the first time since 1982.
Ole Miss had won four of five in the series and looked as if it had locked up the win after the SEC's worst defense stifled Mississippi State for three quarters. But coach Ed Orgeron decided to go for a fourth-and-1 at the Ole Miss 49 early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs stuffed BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a 3-yard loss and Carroll finally began to move his team on the ensuing drive. He entered the quarter 4-of-12 for 28 yards and had even been yanked for two series.
He hit four of his next five passes for 37 yards, however, capping the drive with a 4-yard scoring toss to Anthony Dixon. Mississippi State was helped by an Ole Miss personal foul penalty on the drive.
The Mississippi State defense held Ole Miss on its next two series after receivers dropped three passes that would have been good for first downs.
Pegues then fielded Justin Sparks' 33-yard punt at his 35 and sprinted straight ahead, making one move around midfield before tying the game 14-14 with 2:38 left.
After a final three-and-out, the Bulldogs took over at their 35 with 43 seconds left. Carroll went 3-of-4 for 34 yards and picked up a first down on a designed run.
Carlson, on the verge of being replaced at the beginning of the year after starting his career 8-of-16 on field goals, capped an 8-for-11 season with the kick.
Green-Ellis rushed for 117 yards and scored a 14-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Brent Schaeffer threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Shay Hodge on Ole Miss' opening drive of the second half to put the Rebels up 14-0.
Dixon finished with 101 yards receiving and 29 rushing for Mississippi State.
Source: ncaafootball.com; Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media