Miss. St. celebrates 23-17 win over Wake Forest

By Teresa M. Walker

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 31 2011 9:35 a.m. MST

Mississippi State scored 16 straight points after that to take control, and the Bulldogs' 16-7 lead at halftime would have been bigger if not for three turnovers in the first half, including an interception in the end zone with a second left. Bud Noel intercepted Relf's pass at the Wake Forest 1 in the second half.

The Demon Deacons opened the second half by driving 64 yards before Tommy Bohanon ran in a TD from a yard out to pull Wake Forest to 16-14. But Mississippi State sacked Price four times in the third quarter alone and harassed him into plenty of throws that hit the ground before reaching receivers.

Relf scooped up a low snap in the shotgun and got the ball to Ballard, who ran through the middle of the line and outraced the Demon Deacons for a 72-yard TD with 12:53 left. That put the Bulldogs up 23-14 and gave Ballard 179 yards on 11 carries. His first TD came three plays after Wake Forest turned one of his fumbles into a 14-yard TD by Brandon Pendergrass.

Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock said he thought they did a good job stopping Ballard most of the game and blamed missed assignments, including some by himself, for the TDs.

"They took it to the house on us a couple times," Whitlock said.

Fletcher Cox had a sack and also blocked a 33-yard field goal, grabbed out of the air by teammate Johnthan Banks. That set up the Bulldogs' go-ahead drive as Relf broke loose for his longest run this season of 27 yards. Relf then dropped back and hit Arceto Clark with a 31-yard TD pass for a 13-7 lead with 12:41 left in the second quarter.

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