In his final collegiate game, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott showed what has made him a special player for the past few seasons.
The Bulldogs senior threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 47 yards in a 51-28 Belk Bowl victory over NC State, outdueling fellow senior Jacoby Brissett. Prescott spread his passes to seven different receivers, all of whom registered at least two receptions. The Bulldogs were led by juniors De’Runnya Wilson (five catches for 96 yards) and Fred Ross (seven catches for 74 yards) while running back Brandon Holloway (78 yards receiving, 41 yards rushing) had two touchdown catches out of the backfield.
It was clear that Prescott was at the top of his game from the get go as the Bulldogs jumped out to an early 21-0 lead. Brissett threw an interception on NC State’s first play from scrimmage. Five plays later, Prescott found Ross for a 14-yard touchdown.
After the teams traded punts, Brissett was again intercepted and the Bulldogs quickly capitalized. This time, Prescott looked Wilson’s way and found him for gains of 39 and 28 yards, the latter of which ended with six points, giving MSU a 14-0 lead.
NC State finally moved the ball some on its next possession but turned the ball over on downs in MSU territory. It took only four plays this time for the Bulldogs to score after regaining possession, this time when Ross took a reverse 33 yards to the house.
At a point when the game looked like it was headed to blowout territory, NC State’s offense finally made a play – thanks to a Mississippi State breakdown in coverage. Someone forgot to pick up tight end Pharoah McKever on a drag route and Brissett hit him in stride. McKever then sprinted the rest of the way for an 82-yard touchdown.
Prescott made a rare mistake on the next drive – an interception – and NC State all of a sudden cut the lead to 21-14 when Jaylen Samuels reeled off a 48-yard touchdown run.
It looked like NC State had all the momentum, but on the next drive, Prescott calmly led the MSU offense on another scoring drive to build the lead back to two scores, 28-14. A field goal then gave MSU a 31-14 lead at halftime.
A Brissett touchdown run got NC State to within 10 early in the second half, but it was all Mississippi State the rest of the way.
Prescott found Holloway for a pair of touchdowns – one from 10 and another from 55 yards. Aeris Williams later put the bow on the game with a 33-yard rushing score. Aside from a garbage time touchdown run from Samuels, the Bulldogs cruised to a win.
The victory caps off a remarkable career for Prescott, who was a first team All-SEC selection the past two seasons. He is one of four players in FBS history with at least 9,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards.
With the win, the Bulldogs finish 9-4 on the season.
For NC State, it’s a disappointing finish to what could have been a second straight eight-win season. The Wolfpack finish 7-6 on the year without a single win over an FBS team with a winning record.