Bulldogs finish strong season with convincing Belk Bowl win

From School Reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — To close out the 2015 season, Mississippi State (9-4) took down North Carolina State (7-6) 51-28 to win the Belk Bowl Wednesday. The Bulldogs started the game quickly on a 21-0 run, earning a lead they never lost for the rest of the day.

“It’s huge,” head coach Dan Mullen said of the initial jump. “Especially in a bowl game, you want to start fast, because you haven’t played in a while.”

In his last game in the Maroon and White, senior quarterback Dak Prescott earned Belk Bowl MVP honors and broke his own records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single season in MSU history.

“I don’t think there’s words to really describe what he’s done for this program,” Mullen said. “I think he’s taken a university and a football program and changed the way people think about it. I guess that’s the best way to do it, and that’s pretty unique.”

With Prescott delivering the passes, junior receiver Fred Ross also extended his own single-season school record with 88 catches this season, a mark that puts him in the Top 10 of SEC single-season highs.

Overall, Prescott completed 25-of-42 passes for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns, setting the Belk Bowl record for both passing yards and total offense, while Ross caught seven passes for 74 yards and one touchdown, becoming only the second player in MSU history to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

Defensively, MSU put pressure on the NC State offense for the majority of the game, starting with an interception by freshman linebacker Gerri Green on the first play of the game as NCSU quarterback Jacoby Brissett was under duress. Junior linebacker Beniquez Brown led MSU with nine tackles, including two sacks of the NCSU quarterback. Overall, MSU’s front seven had eight quarterback hurries and six sacks.

With the win, Mississippi State finished with its third nine-win season under head coach Dan Mullen, earning back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in school history. State is now 11-8 overall in bowl contests, 4-2 under Mullen’s guidance.

“In 114 years of Mississippi State football, only six teams have won nine games,” Mullen remarked. “This team is one of them.”