MSU Drops Another Close One

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Quarterbacks Matt Jones and Zak Clark are competitors, but most of all they are Arkansas teammates. After Jones threw a critical interception that put Mississippi State in position to win, he headed for the sideline with his head down. ``Zak came over to me and told me to keep my head up and make something happen,'' Jones said. ``That really helped a lot.'' Jones made up for the interception by running 43 yards on a draw play to set up Cedric Cobbs' third touchdown with 1:20 to play as Arkansas beat Mississippi State 24-21 on Saturday. Down 10 midway through the fourth quarter, Mississippi State (2-7, 1-6 SEC) took the lead on Kevin Fant's 20-yard pass to Justin Jenkins, and Dicenzo Miller's 25-yard touchdown run. Miller's score, with 2:07 to play, came three plays after Josh Morgan intercepted Jones' forced pass on third-and-18. From the Arkansas 25, Jones _ who ran 45 yards to set up a touchdown and completed a 61-yard pass that led to a field goal _ got loose on the draw to the Mississippi State 32. ``Their quarterback made the biggest play of the game with the long run at the end,'' said Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill. ``We missed enough tackles to last an entire year. The defense gave us a chance to win at the end with the interception, but we can't let them make a play like that run.'' Jones said Cobbs blocked a blitzer and there was nobody in the middle of the field. ``After that, all I had to do was run,'' said Jones, who added that he was surprised he went back in after the interception. Winded, he was relieved by Clark, who completed an 8-yard pass to George Wilson and a 9-yarder to Decori Birmingham, who broke a tackle. ``Matt Jones is a threat every time he touches the ball, but let me tell you, it took two quarterbacks to win the game,'' said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. ``Zak came in and pulled out the victory.'' Jones returned and handed the ball to Cobbs, who scored from the 15 as the Razorbacks (7-3, 4-3 SEC) recorded their sixth straight victory and moved into position for their fourth consecutive bowl under Nutt. The Bulldogs did little until Fant, making his first start, found Jenkins with a perfect throw on a deep corner route with 5:07 to play. After a holding penalty, Morgan intercepted Jones. Morgan also returned a fumble 23 yards for the Bulldogs' first touchdown. ``The first thing I thought about was the seniors,'' Nutt said. ``I couldn't look them in the eyes. I had to come up with something to get the ball in the end zone.''

In the third quarter, Jones passed up an easy throw to Nathan Ball and weaved through most of the defense on his long run to the Bulldogs' 14. From there, Cobbs scored as La'Zerius White shoved one defender out of the way. When the play was over, three injured Mississippi State players were lying on the grass. Barely three minutes earlier, Brennan O'Donohoe put Arkansas ahead to stay with a 19-yard field goal after Jones and Sparky Hamilton hooked up on a pass to the 9. Arkansas intercepted three passes _ one by Lawrence Richardson a step deep in the end zone after the Bulldogs reached the Arkansas 17 in the second quarter _ and one by Eddie Jackson only two plays before Jones' long pass to Hamilton, who split two defenders on a slant pattern for his fifth catch of the year. Caleb Miller got the third one on the Bulldogs' last possession. Arkansas' first touchdown drive included two pass completions by Clark, a 10-yard run by Talley and a 14-yarder by Cobbs. On third-and-10. Jones subbed for Clark and fooled many with a fake to Birmingham headed right. Jones went left and made 13. From the 5, Cobbs pulled away from one defender and shoved another into the ground on his way to the end zone. After Richardson's interception, Jones handed the ball to Talley _ his first carry since a quick trip to the locker room late in the first quarter _ and Pig Prather lowered his shoulder for a form tackle. The ball popped out and bounced off a player's foot toward the Arkansas goal. With no one around, Morgan scored easily.