Mississippi doubles up Mississippi State

Posted: Friday, November 29, 2002

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Eli Manning hit Chris Collins with two touchdown passes to lead Mississippi to a 24-12 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday night in the Egg Bowl.

Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) snapped a five-game losing streak and took back the Golden Egg trophy that's gone to the winner of the game for the last 75 years. The Rebels also became bowl eligible. They are likely headed to the Independence Bowl or Music City Bowl.

The 99th meeting between the archrivals was a dreary ending to the worst season in coach Jackie Sherrill's 12-year tenure at Mississippi State (3-9, 0-8).

The Bulldogs finished winless in the SEC for the first time since 1988 and lost their last five games. For Sherrill, it's the first nine-loss season of his 25-year career.

Manning was 16-for-29 for 207 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown run. Collins caught four passes for 130 yards. Kevin Fant was 23-for-42 for 340 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions for Mississippi State.

Brent Smith kicked two field goals.

Ray Ray Bivines had a career-high six catches for 115 yards, and his 22-yard TD grab with 12:54 left cut Mississippi's lead to 17-12. The Bulldogs failed on the 2-point try.

But Mississippi State, the most turnover-prone team in the SEC, helped set up Ole Miss' game-sealing touchdown with its 37th giveaway of the season.

Travis Johnson, beaten by Bivines on the touchdown, intercepted Fant at the Bulldogs 26 and returned it to the 4 with about six minutes left.

Manning sneaked in from the 1 three plays later to make it 24-12.

Von Hutchins stopped a Mississippi State threat in the third quarter with an interception at the Ole Miss 14.

Manning and Collins took advantage with a big play less than two minutes later.

With the defense crowding the line on third-and-1, Manning zipped a short pass to a slanting Collins, who sprinted away from Kevin Dockery for a 77-yard touchdown that made it 14-3.

The score gave Collins a school-record 10 TD catches this season.

Mississippi State's offense ran 27 of the first 30 plays in the first quarter, but had only a 3-0 lead on Smith's 35-yard field goal.

The Rebels' offense got untracked in the second quarter. They took a 7-3 lead when Manning connected with Collins on a perfectly blocked slip screen that went for a 28-yard touchdown.

Jason Armstead returned a punt 51 yards to put the Rebels in business at the Bulldogs 34 on their next drive.

Ole Miss got to the 14 with a fourth-and-1, and coach David Cutcliffe chose to play it safe with a 32-yard field goal attempt by Jonathan Nichols.

Mississippi State's 6-foot-5 safety Michael Gholar foiled that strategy, leaping high to block the kick.

Ole Miss leads the series 56-37-6.



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