Jacksonville Sports Day

BOWLS: Jackson Throws Three Picks as Bulldogs Hold and On Rally Past Cards, 31-27

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –– Mississippi State (9-4, 4-4 SEC) defeated Louisville (8-5, 4-4 ACC) 31-27 in the TaxSlayer Bowl Saturday before 41,310 at EverBank Field.

The win was the first for the SEC winless this bowl season as Missouri, Texas A&M and Kentucky fell in earlier games.

“We talked about going out and playing four quarters.  It took four quarters to win that ballgame. We knew what we were facing, Heisman Trophy winner, a guy that was capable of putting the team on his back and carrying them to victory,” noted MSU interim head coach Greg Knox.

MSU freshman QB Keytaon Thompson made his first-ever star and finished 11-of-20 passing for 127 yards and one interception, while also rushing 27 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns.

Aeris Williams added 88 yards on 12 touches to average a game-high 7.3 yards per carry. He closed the season with 1,107 yards rushing, which passes Keffer McGee (1995) for eighth in MSU single-season history.

Ultimately, MSU racked up 404 yards.

The game saw both QBs rush for over 100 yards.  Both Thompson and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson rushed for over 100 yards, marking just the fourth time this season that both quarterbacks have rushed for over 100 yards in an FBS contest.

Jackson finished the game with 329 yards of total offense. He rushed 24 times for 158 yards and one touchdown, while completing 13-of-31 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns

UL’s Jaylen Smith led all receivers in the game with seven catches for 107 yards and one touchdown.

Bulldogs’ junior safety Mark McLaurin was named the TaxSlayer Bowl MVP after recording three interceptions on the day, contributing to four total picks the Bulldogs had in the game. MSU also recorded six pass break-ups and six sacks, capping a strong day by the defense.

“Back in January we made a commitment, we told them this team was not the same as our last game.  We had each other’s backs,” added McLaurin. “Looked each other in the eyes, said, We’re going to do this. Coach Knox is around, we locked on and said we’re going to come out with a win.”

UL led 21-17 at halftime and 24-17 through three quarters, but State rallied to outscore Louisville 14-3 in the final period on the strength of two of Thompson’s three rushing touchdowns as well as two of McLaurin’s three interceptions.

MUS’s Johnathan Abram set career highs in total tackles (9), sacks (1.5) and tackles for loss (2.0). Willie Gay, Jr. and Cameron Dantzler tied their career highs with four tackles. Montez Sweat set a career high with 2.0 tackles for loss.

The Cardinals’ Trevon Young recorded a career-high 10 tackles on the day, including three for loss, and had one quarterback hurry.

Mississippi State will begin its 2018 season under first-year head coach Joe Morehead with spring practice in March. The Bulldogs open the 2018 campaign Sept. 1, hosting Stephen F. Austin at Davis Wade Stadium.

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