Mississippi State Finds Sweet Relief in 21-20 Egg Bowl Victory

At first it seemed Mississippi State had Ole Miss right where they wanted them, facing a 4th and 24 in the closing moments of Thursday night’s Egg Bowl. But an improbable conversion and two costly penalties gave the Rebels first and goal, and suddenly it was the red and blue who had things going their way, as Matt Corral found Elijah Moore in the end zone to cut State’s lead to 21-20, an extra point away from tying the game up and sending the Battle for the Golden Egg into overtime for the first time since 2013.

Then it happened.

Elijah Moore’s incredible decision to re-enact DK Metcalf’s fire hydrant celebration from 2017 resulted in the ensuing kick being moved back 15 yards, and Luke Logan pushed it wide right to give Mississippi State an incredible, unbelievable, and hilarious 21-20 victory over their hated rivals. A night that saw the Bulldogs harass Rebel freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee into only 34 yards rushing, while piling up 210 yards on the ground of their own behind Kylin Hill and Nick Gibson ended in a delirious celebration for the maroon and white while the Rebel faithful could only look on in anguish. The win guaranteed the Bulldogs and Coach Joe Moorhead, who was incredibly forceful in his postgame press conference regarding his status in Starkville, a tenth straight bowl appearance. State finishes the regular season at 6-6, while the Rebels fall to 4-8 in Matt Luke’s third season, which will end with the outside noise louder than ever about his long term future in Oxford.

THE PLAYER

Of course, blocking isn’t what Kylin Hill is best known for. The Bulldog junior added to his SEC leading rushing tally with 132 yards on 27 carries, grinding out first downs all game long as State went with a run-heavy game plan with senior quarterback Tommy Stevens out suffering from an upper body injury. Ole Miss was able to bottle up freshman Garrett Shrader, so it fell to Hill to carry the MSU offense on a night when the passing game wasn’t going to be as effective.

THE PLAY

Ole Miss might have taken the lead earlier if not for the play of two of Mississippi State’s defensive stars who were in the lineup for only the fourth time this year. Willie Gay recovered a fumble in the third quarter to quell a Rebel drive, and Marcus Murphy picked off Corral with Ole Miss deep in Bulldog territory. It was obviously the difference those two players, along with defensive tackle Lee Autry, made for the Bulldogs, and it isn’t unfair to assume that Bob Shoop’s unit would have looked totally different with those guys on the field. Coach Joe Moorhead said in his postgame press conference that this season had included more adversity than any other he had coached, and the “Tutorgate” suspensions were a huge piece of that.

WHAT’S NEXT

Mississippi State will find out its bowl destination next Sunday, but more importantly, it seems apparent the smoke surrounding Joe Moorhead’s future in Starkville will dissipate. While it was reported by numerous sources that even in victory Moorhead might be coaching his final game for the Bulldogs, the coach was emphatic that he is the man for the job going forward. It will be surprising at this point if athletic director John Cohen would make a change, and Moorhead said no such decision has ever been discussed with him. Expect Moorhead on the sidelines for the bowl game and the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics