Kendall Watkins caught the game-winning touchdown pass and Eric Moulds caught a lot of the credit Saturday for Mississippi State’s 24-21 victory over 23rd-ranked Tennessee at Starkville, Miss.
Moulds caught three passes from Derrick Taite during the game-winning 11-play, 52-yard drive, including a leaping 22-yard grab on fourth and 12 to the eight.
“Taite came back across the middle to me,” Moulds said. “He said he was going to hang it up a little bit and give me a chance to catch it. . . . That’s what happened.”
Said Mississippi State Coach Jackie Sherrill: “Eric made some big, big catches. There were two plays he made that probably won the game for us.” On fourth down from the two, Taite combined with Watkins for the touchdown with 36 seconds to play.
The Bulldogs’ winning drive started after Aaron Hayden fumbled, the fourth consecutive Tennessee possession ended by a turnover.
Mississippi State, 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference, was outgained, 464 yards to 294, but still left Tennessee (1-3, 1-2) with three September losses for the first time since 1988, when the Volunteers lost their first six games.
“We are obviously struggling right now,” Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said. “We made enough mistakes in this game to lose two games.”
Before this season, Fulmer had lost only two games since replacing Johnny Majors midway through 1992. He has now lost two in a row, including a 31-0 loss to top-ranked Florida last week at Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee freshman Peyton Manning, playing in the state where his father, Archie Manning, starred for Mississippi in the 1960s, passed for two touchdowns. Replacing injured starter Todd Helton, Manning completed 14 of 23 passes for 256 yards, with one interception.
No. 11 Alabama 20, Tulane 10--Sherman Williams rushed for a career-high 191 yards to lead the Crimson Tide at Birmingham, Ala.
Williams continued to be a one-man show on offense for Alabama (4-0), carrying the ball 31 times and accounting for nearly half of his team’s 389 yards. The week before against Arkansas, the senior tailback was responsible for 234 of Alabama’s 276 yards.
Tulane (1-3) was coming off a 49-0 rout by North Carolina, but the Green Wave held the Alabama offense without a touchdown until a 16-yard run by Brian Steger broke a 10-10 tie with 2:29 to play in the third quarter.
Alabama’s other touchdown was scored on a 24-yard fumble return by Dameian Jeffries in the second quarter, erasing a 10-3 deficit.
Williams stood out in a lackluster game with his fourth consecutive 100-yard effort, eclipsing his previous career high of 153 yards established in the season opener.
Georgia 17, Mississippi 14--Eric Zeier passed for 257 yards and two touchdowns to lift the Bulldogs (3-1, 2-1) at Athens, Ga.
Zeier’s scoring passes covered four yards to Brice Hunter in the second quarter and five yards to Larry Bowie in the third.
Zeier, a senior, completed 24 of 44 passes, with a career-high three interceptions.
The margin of victory was provided by Kanon Parkmans, whose 34-yard field goal broke a 7-7 tie less than three minutes into the third quarter after Greg Brice recovered Josh Nelson’s fumbled snap on the Rebel 38.
Nelson led scoring drives of 91 yards in the first quarter and 72 yards in the third, but Mississippi fell to 2-2 and 1-2.
After Zeier’s touchdown pass to Bowie gave the Bulldogs a 17-7 lead, Nelson capped Mississippi’s second scoring drive by connecting with Roell Preston on a 38-yard touchdown pass play.