MISSISSIPPI STATE running back Kylin Hill (8) leaps over Mississippi defensive back Jalen Julius (7) on a 30-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., on Thursday. Mississippi won, 31-28.

MISSISSIPPI STATE running back Kylin Hill (8) leaps over Mississippi defensive back Jalen Julius (7) on a 30-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., on Thursday. Mississippi won, 31-28.

STARKVILLE, Miss.

A.J. Brown thought the ball was overthrown, but kept sprinting and stuck his arms out as far as they would go. The Mississippi receiver was astonished when the ball stuck right in his hands and he ran for a crucial touchdown.

After a year of bad news, things were finally going the Rebels’ way in the Egg Bowl.

Ole Miss stunned No. 16 Mississippi State 31-28 on Thursday night, jumping out to a big second-half lead and holding on in the final minutes to win the rivalry game for the fourth time in six seasons.

The Rebels (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) had a 10-6 lead at halftime and then broke the game open in the third quarter with Brown’s 77-yard touchdown catch and another 63-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf.

“I’m just so happy for our players and our fans,” Ole Miss interim coach Matt Luke said.

It’s a sweet ending to a rough season for the Rebels. Ole Miss isn’t eligible for a bowl game because of a selfimposed postseason ban related to an NCAA infractions case that continues to hover over the program. The Rebels also lost head coach Hugh Freeze when he resigned during the summer after a school investigation into his phone records .

“The record wasn’t what we wanted it to be,” running back Jordan Wilkins said. “But we kept fighting as a team … There’s no better feeling than to finish it off like this.”

Jordan Ta’amu threw for 247 yards and the two touchdowns to Brown and Metcalf. Wilkins added 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Brown, the SEC’s leader in yards receiving, had six catches for 167 yards. The sophomore went to high school a few miles away from Mississippi State’s campus at Starkville High School and had a big game in his return.

Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4) was a two-touchdown favorite, but had to play most of the game without starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. He was carted off the field in the first quarter with a right leg injury.

Fitzgerald came into the game with 968 yards rushing this season, which was the most for a quarterback in the SEC.


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