JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The No. 20 Northwestern Wildcats 10-3 downed the Mississippi State Bulldogs 9-5 34-20 in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
Northwestern wasted no time getting on the board when Quentin Williams returned a Tyler Russell interception 29 yards just 47 seconds into the game.Jeff Budzien added a pair of field goals on the Wildcats next two drives from 34 and 37 yards, respectively.
The Bulldog defense then stopped the Northwestern offense on back-to-back drives leading to MSU’s first points of the day.Devon Bell got the scoring going with a 27-yard field goal.
After MSU forced a three-and-out, Russell connected with Arceto Clark for an 18-yard touchdown and sent State to the locker room only trailing by three.Nickoe Whitley stopped Northwestern’s first drive of the second half with the first of his two interceptions on the day.
Three minutes later, Bell tied his career-long with a 47-yard field goal to square the game at 13 apiece.
The Wildcats quickly retook the lead with a six-play, 76-yard drive that only took 1:12 off the clock and then added another touchdown with 1:35 left in the third quarter to take 27-13 lead into the final stanza.
MSU tacked on another touchdown when Russell floated a pass to Malcolm Johnson in center of the endzone just 3:18 into the fourth quarter.
The MSU defense forced another three-and-out on Northwestern’s next drive but, Russell’s fourth interception of the day was returned 44 yards to the five yard line.
The Wildcats punched in their final touchdown to secure the win.Josh Robinson finished the game as State’s leading rusher with 91 yards on seven carries. Junior LaDarius Perkins added 85 yards on 19 carries.Clark finished with three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown, while Johnson hauled in two catches for 24 yards and a score. Chad Bumphis also grabbed three catches for 18 yards in his final game as a Bulldog.Russell completed 12-of-28 for 106 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.