By Logan Lowery
AUBURN, Ala. – For the second trip in a row, Dan Mullen has left the plains of Auburn heartbroken.
In 2011, Mullen watched helplessly as then Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf was stuffed at the goal line by defensive back Ryan Smith falling inches shy of a touchdown as time expired in a 41-34 defeat.
Saturday night it was a different story but ended with the same result. Clinging to a 20-17 lead, Mullen looked on in the final 1:56 as the Tigers drove 88-yards on 12-plays on his defense and saw Nick Marshall find tight end C.J. Uzomah in the side of the end zone for the game-winning score with 10-seconds remaining
It was the third time in Mullen’s five-year tenure that he last lost to Auburn on the final drive.
“We didn’t finish,” Mullen said. “It was a pretty simple deal. We had an opportunity to finish the game on offense and didn’t do it. We had an opportunity to finish the game on defense and didn’t do it. That’s all coaching to me so that’s all on me and our assistant coaches to make sure we have our kids prepared to go finish the game and we didn’t do it.”
It was the first time in 30 games that Mullen has lost when leading after the third quarter.
There were familiar faces on both sidelines Saturday night. Auburn’s coaching staff is littered with former MSU assistant coaches. Charlie Harbison, J.B. Grimes, Ellis Johnson and Melvin Smith spent a combined 25 years in Starkville. Additionally, Tiger players Jermaine Whitehead and Deon Mix were once Mississippi State commitments.
Bulldogs running backs coach Greg Knox coached wide receivers on the plains from 1999-2008 while running back LaDarius Perkins and cornerback Jahmere Irvin-Sills were both committed to Auburn at one point during their recruitment.
Auburn went 88 yards on 12 plays scoring the game-winning touchdowns with 10 seconds remaining. Nick Marshall was 6-of-8 passing on the drive and tossed a 11-yard touchdown to C.J. Uzomah.
Key number – 339
Number of yards allowed by MSU through the air.
“We just have to finish. On defense we played hard the whole game but in that fourth quarter we just didn’t finish like we should have.” – MSU sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney.
State returns home to host Troy at 6:30 p.m. on FSN. The Bulldogs won 30-24 at Troy last season.
Nickoe Whitley had two interceptions bringing his career total to 12… Whitley is now tied for third on MSU’s pickoff list and is tied for the most of any active FBS player…The loss was the first for Dan Mullen when leading after three quarters (29-1)…Deontae Skinner, A.J. Jefferson and Richie Brown recorded their first career sacks…Kendrick Market made a career-high seven tackles.