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Mississippi State 44, Rice 7

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Jameon Lewis led Mississippi State to a record-breaking, 44-7 rout of Rice at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Tuesday.

Prescott accounted for 361 total yards and a Liberty Bowl-record five touchdowns, while Lewis caught nine passes for a school and Liberty Bowl-record 220 yards as the Bulldogs scored the game's last 44 points.

Mississippi State (7-6) won its third bowl game in four tries under fifth-year coach Dan Mullen, while the Owls (10-4) followed up their Conference USA title with a season-ending clunker.

Prescott completed 17 of 28 passes for 283 yards and three scores. He also rushed 14 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns, both in the third quarter, before departing for backup Damian Williams as the fourth period started.

Rice scored first, taking advantage of the Bulldogs' only error of the day, a fumble by wide receiver Robert Johnson that cornerback Phillip Gaines recovered at the Mississippi State 45.

Nine plays later, running back Charles Ross bounced in from the 1 and the Owls led 7-0 with 6:41 left in the first quarter.

The game's remainder amounted to a three-hour-plus pep rally for the huge Bulldogs fan contingent as Prescott and Lewis carved up the overmatched Rice defense repeatedly.

They teamed up for 17- and 28-yard gains to set up Prescott's 10-yard touchdown pass to running back LaDarius Perkins with 2:01 left in the first quarter, tying the game at 7.

A 35-yard hookup between Prescott and Lewis led to a 1-yard plunge by running back Ashton Shumpert with 9:49 remaining in the first half, giving the Bulldogs the lead for good.

Prescott and tight end Malcolm Johnson connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass at the 4:32 mark to make it 20-7. Lewis' 65-yard scamper with a short pass from Prescott set up a 4-yard scoring catch by tight end Artimus Samuel with 10 seconds left in the half.

Prescott tacked on touchdown runs of 5 and 11 yards in the third quarter, ending the game's competitive phase.

Bulldogs backup placekicker Taylor Earhart added a 20-yard field goal with 4:45 remaining in the game.

Owls senior quarterback Taylor McHargue completed eight of 15 passes for 84 yards.

Mississippi State outgained Rice 533 yards to 145.

NOTES: Mississippi State S Nickoe Whitley, who leads all active Football Bowl Subdivision players in career interceptions with 15, missed the game due to surgery to repair a torn ACL. Whitley suffered the injury Sept. 14 at Auburn but played nine games after he was hurt. ... Rice PK Chris Boswell tops all active FBS kickers with 13 field goals of 50 yards or longer. He also led the FBS this year with a 77 percent touchback rate on kickoffs. ... The Bulldogs and Owls met for just the second time. Mississippi State's 28-14 win on Oct. 11, 1975, was later forfeited to Rice.

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