STARKVILLE — Chris Relf rushed for 97 yards and threw for 135 yards and a touchdown as Mississippi State beat Georgia 24-12 on Saturday night, breaking a nine-game losing streak in the series dating back to 1974.
Relf completed 8 of 13 passes, producing several big plays with his arm and his feet to help second-year coach Dan Mullen deliver one of the biggest wins of his tenure in front of an announced crowd of 56,721, which is the third-largest in Davis-Wade Stadium history.
“It’s a big win for our kids,” Mullen said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. The atmosphere was great.”
Mississippi State (2-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) held Georgia (1-3, 0-3) to just two field goals until the final minutes. Georgia’s Aaron Murray completed 18 of 31 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown.
The troubles continue for Georgia, which has lost three games in a row for the first time since 1990 and starts 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 1993.
The first two losses in the streak came against nationally-ranked teams — South Carolina and Arkansas. But Saturday’s loss comes against a Mississippi State program Georgia has traditionally dominated, winning 16 of 21 all-time coming into the game.
Georgia outgained Mississippi State 387 yards to 314, but lost two first-half fumbles, including one by Washaun Ealey that was less than a yard from a touchdown.
Mistakes were the only constant for Georgia, which was penalized nine times for 63 yards, with several coming at crucial moments.
Mississippi State grabbed a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter after a four-play touchdown drive ended with Vick Ballard’s 13-yard run.
Blair Walsh kicked two second-quarter field goals from 25 and 35 yards, respectively, to pull Georgia within 7-6 by halftime.
Mississippi State put the game away with two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, stretching a 10-6 lead to 24-6. The first came on a 33-yard pass from Relf to Arceto Clark with 4:22 remaining while the second was a 1-yard Ballard run with 3:15 left.
Ballard finished with a season-high 77 yards rushing.
Georgia’s only touchdown came with 1:27 remaining when Murray hit Taverres King with a 40-yard touchdown. Ealey led the team with 37 yards rushing.
Read all about the game in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.
David Brandt/The Assocated Press