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Mississippi State holds off Bowling Green, 21-20

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Down 21-20 with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter, Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson was given the chance to win the game.

Mississippi State had just gone for a fourth-and-1 on the Bowling Green six yard line. Quarterback Dak Prescott's rush was stopped inches short, and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs. 

"All we wanted was a shot," Johnson said.

Johnson completed four passes and Travis Green rushed once to get the Falcons to midfield. But then the drive stalled, and when Johnson failed to complete a fourth-and-11 to Ryan Burbrink, Mississippi State ran out the clock.

"We gave ourselves that shot," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, we just came up a little bit short."

Mississippi State (3-3) had 422 yards of offense, 245 on the ground as the Bulldogs won their 11th straight nonconference home game.

Bowling Green (5-2) had 384 yards of total offense, 224 through the air.

Johnson was 19-of-33 for 194 yards.

Prescott rushed for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was also 7-of-11 passing for 75 yards and one interception.

"We moved the ball well," Prescott said. "We did some good things, but we also shot ourselves in the foot on some things. We just have to get better."

The game was a back-and-forth affair. Mississippi State opened the game on a 9-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a LaDarius Perkins touchdown. Bowling Green's BooBoo Gates intercepted Prescott on MSU's next offensive series, and eventually settled for a 35-yard field goal by Tyler Tate. Prescott responded on the next drive by rushing for a 75-yard touchdown.

In the second quarter, Bowling Green answered with a 96-yard drive capped off by a 7-yard Andre Givens touchdown run.

Mississippi State responded with a 75-yard drive and a 10-yard Prescott touchdown run with 1:04 left in the second quarter. But quarterback Matt Johnson worked Bowling Green into field goal range, and Tate nailed a 45-yarder to end the first half.

"Things changed at halftime when we kicked that field goal," Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson said. "I thought at halftime we had a lot of momentum."

Tate missed a 45-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, but Bowling Green responded with a 7-play touchdown drive on its next possession, to pull within one point; the eventual final margin.

"We dropped too many balls tonight," Clawson said. "If we catch everything that we should catch then it's a different outcome perhaps."

For MSU, Perkins rushed for 83 yards and one touchdown. Perkins, Joe Morrow and Jameon Lewis each caught four passes.

Mullen again used both Prescott, a sophomore, and veteran quarterback Tyler Russell throughout the game. Russell finished 12-of-14 for 102 yards.

For Bowling Green, Green rushed for 99 yards and Burbrink caught four passes for a game-high 66 yards.

Gates was ejected in the second quarter for targeting.

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