By Emily Williams, Managing Editor
Miami University fell to Mississippi State 16-17 this afternoon in the St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field. The ‘Hawks had a chance to pull ahead with a 37-yard field goal, but the Bulldogs blocked the kick, securing their one-point lead with five seconds on the clock.
The game was Miami’s first bowl appearance since 2010 and ninth in program history. The matchup against Mississippi State was MU’s first contest against an SEC team since 2011.
The RedHawks end the season 6-7 overall after starting the season 0-6. After their victory against Ball State University in November, the ‘Hawks set a record as the first team in NCAA history to finish the season 6-6 after starting 0-6.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gus Ragland, who had a perfect 6-0 record coming into today’s game, completed 21 of 29 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. An interception by the Bulldogs early in the fourth quarter broke Ragland’s career streak of 203 consecutive passes without an interception.
The RedHawks maintained the lead throughout the contest until the fourth quarter and outgained the Bulldogs 433-355 yards overall.
Miami’s president Gregory Crawford tweeted after the game to congratulate the team on their record-setting season.
“Congrats RedHawks on an unforgettable and amazing season. We are proud of you,” he wrote.
The ‘Hawks started off the game with a 3-0 lead after a successful 18-yard field goal by Nick Dowd in the first quarter. A six-yard touchdown reception by sophomore wide receiver James Gardner bumped the ‘Hawk’s lead up to 9-0 with 8:36 left in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs blocked the extra point. With 22 seconds left in the half, MSU scored a touchdown, bringing the ‘Hawks lead to 9-7 at the half.
In the third quarter, a touchdown pass to junior tight end Ryan Smith brought Miami’s lead to 16-7, but the Bulldogs answered with another touchdown to bring the score to 16-14 with 4:15 remaining in the quarter.
An MSU interception in the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs another chance to gain the lead. Although the RedHawks’ defense held them out of the endzone, MSU gained a one-point advantage after kicking a 36-yard field goal with 12:03 left in the game.
Sophomore running back Kenny Young, who led the team in rushing with 67 yards on nine carries, pushed the ‘Hawks to midfield with 34 yards on three carries with 17 seconds remaining in play. The Bulldog’s block on Dowd’s field goal attempt secured MSU’s victory.