STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the fourth straight weekend, Louisiana Tech found itself in a dogfight late in the game and for the third time the Bulldogs came up just short as Chris Relf's 17-yard touchdown pass to LaDarius Perkins in overtime gave Mississippi State a 26-20 overtime win Saturday night.
It was another game filled with positives for Sonny Dykes and the Bulldogs, but ultimately, another one filled with what ifs.
Tech (1-3) wasn't able to capitalize on two opportunities late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 20-20 and after freshman quarterback Nick Isham threw his second interception of the game on the Bulldogs possession in overtime, Mississippi State (2-2) made them pay.
On a second-down-and-two play from the 17-yard line, Relf lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone to Perkins who had beaten the Tech corner as the more than 56,000 Mississippi State fans erupted in celebration.
The loss marked the third time this season that LA Tech has fallen with all three setbacks coming by two points or less or in overtime.
With just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Tech looked to be in prime position to pull the victory - what would have been its third straight against Mississippi State.
After driving 60 yards on nine plays - which included a highlight real 28-yard catch by Hunter Lee off a tipped ball - Tech was faced with a third down and three play from the MSU 21-yard line. After a timeout, Isham dropped back and threw an ill-advised pass into the endzone that was intercepted by Mississippi State, ending the Louisiana Tech threat.
Following a three-and-out by the LA Tech defense, Tech took over on its own 35-yard line with 2:32 to play. Two straight runs netted six yards and on third down and four, Isham found Taulib Ikharo over the middle around midfield for what would have been a Tech first down. However, Ikharo dropped the pass, forcing Tech to punt and eventually leading to OT.
Mississippi State took an early 7-0 lead when Chad Bumphis picked up a 72-yard Ryan Allen punt on the 18-yard line, made several LA Tech defenders miss and raced 82 yards to the end zone for the first score of the night.
Tech answered back on a Matt Nelson 43-yard field goal that capped a nine-play, 48-yard drive. Early in the second quarter, LA Tech took its first lead of the game on a Lennon Creer four-yard touchdown run as Nelson's extra point made the score 10-7.
The Bulldogs from Mississippi scored the final 10 points of the half - on a Vick Ballard 11-yard run and a Derek DePasquale 36-yard field goal - as MSU took a 17-10 lead into the halftime locker room.
Midway through the third quarter, Tech's special teams unit made a big play snuffing out a faked punt as the Bulldogs took over at the MSU 34-yard line. Six plays later, Isham found Quinton Patton in the corner of the end zone for a score - on a play that was originally ruled out of bounds before instant replay overturned it in LA Tech's favor.
DePasquale and Nelson traded field goals down the stretch to tie the game at 20-20, setting the stage for overtime.
Isham ended the night 29-of-40 for 233 yards and one score with two interceptions. Quinton Patton caught 11 passes for 87 yards and one score while Creer rushed 24 times for 82 yards and one score.
Tech outgained Mississippi State 359-340 as both teams recorded 20 first downs in the game.
The Bulldog defense stood tall all night long led by Adrien Cole (16 tackles), Jay Dudley (13 tackles) and Jamel Johnson (11 tackles).
Tech returns to action Saturday when its opens Western Athletic Conference play hosting Hawaii at 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium.
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