MSU running back Vick Ballard carries the Egg Bowl trophy (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
By JOEL COLEMAN
As Mississippi State defeated Ole Miss 31-3 Saturday night, arguably no Bulldog had as much to smile about as senior running back Vick Ballard.
Playing his final game at Davis Wade Stadium, Ballard moved into a tie for second place on MSU's all-time rushing touchdown list when the Pascagoula native burst into the end zone for his 27th career rushing score early in the third quarter.
Coupled with his touchdown reception from earlier in the game, Ballard is now sixth all-time in career scoring at MSU with 176 total points.
With his 144 rushing yards on Saturday, Ballard also recorded at least 100 yards rushing for the ninth time in his career.
That mark is eighth-most all-time for a Mississippi State player.
Additionally, Ballard cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season with his Saturday night total.
Ballard now sits at 1,009 yards rushing this season, the 10th-highest single-season total in school history.
"He was huge," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen of Ballard. "I think his goal coming into this year was to get 1,000 yards rushing and he did that."
Relf also contributes
MSU quarterback Chris Relf continued his recent trend of strong Egg Bowl performances.
Combining Relf's Saturday performance with his previous two showings against Ole Miss, Relf has gone 24-of-33 through the air for 401 yards and seven passing touchdowns, while rushing for 263 yards and a score in his career against the Rebels.
In helping the Bulldogs win their third-straght Egg Bowl, Relf tied Kevin Fant for seventh all-time in MSU history in touchdowns responsible with 36.
Relf also became the second-winningest quarterback in program history for signal-callers who have started at least 20 games, now boasting a .667 career winning percentage.
Familiar faces return
Several familiar faces spent time on the Mississippi State sideline at times on Saturday night.
Former MSU head coach Jackie Sherrill, who posted a 7-6 record against Ole Miss in his 13 seasons at the helm of the Bulldogs from 1991-2003, served as the night's honorary game captain.
Former players Anthony Dixon and Pernell McPhee also returned for Saturday's game, just two nights after the pair faced off in a Thanksgiving NFL matchup.
McPhee's Baltimore Ravens beat Dixon's San Francisco 49ers 16-6 on Thursday.
Fans set Davis Wade Stadium record
With an attendance of 55,270 on Saturday night, Mississippi State finished the season averaging a school-record 55,949 fans per home date this season.
The 335,695 total fans to watch a game at Davis Wade Stadium this year ranks third in MSU history and is the most in a six-game home schedule.
All six of the Bulldogs' home games this season now rank in the top-15 home crowds in the history of Scott Field.
Other Egg Bowl notables
With the win over Ole Miss, Mississippi State is now bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.
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The Bulldogs also won the Golden Egg for the third straight season, MSU's longest winning streak since defeating Ole Miss four times in a row from 1939-42.
Additionally, Mississippi State's 28-point margin of victory was the school's largest win over Ole Miss since defeating the Rebels 33-0 in 1919.