GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Sports Network) - Chris Relf ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, but it was Mississippi State's defense that stole the show, helping the Bulldogs hold off the 22nd-ranked Gators, 10-7, at The Swamp.
Relf was limited as a passer, completing just 4-of-9 passes for 33 yards. Vick Ballard added 98 yards on the ground on 20 carries for Mississippi State (5-2, 2-2), which has won four straight games for the first time since 1999, when it won eight in a row.
The Bulldogs' offense was not overly effective, but they never turned the ball over. Florida, conversely, committed two turnovers, and Chas Henry missed both of his field goal attempts, including a potential game-tying attempt from 42 yards away with just seconds remaining.
John Brantley completed 24-of-39 passes for 210 yards, but was picked off once for Florida (4-3, 2-3), which has lost three straight games for the first time since the end of the 1999 season. Additionally. the Gators lost three straight in the regular season for the first time since 1988 during a four-game skid.
Omarius Hines ran for 58 yards and a score for the Gators, who lost despite outgaining the Bulldogs, 361-245.
Florida's last possession began at its own four-yard line with 7:50 to play. Consecutive completions of nine and 11 yards to Frankie Hammond, Jr. put the Gators on their own 24, and three straight passes to Carl Moore totaling 29 yards got Florida into Bulldogs territory at the 43.
Faced with 2nd-and-2, Brantley threw two consecutive incompletions, bringing up fourth down with 39 seconds on the clock and prompting a Mississippi State timeout. The Gators were able to covert on Trey Burton's short catch-and-run for 13 yards down to the 30, but a false start penalty pushed them back five yards.
The Gators were able to gain 10 more yards before fourth down came up from the 25 with a few seconds remaining. Henry, replacing the injured Caleb Sturgis, pushed a 42-yard attempt wide right as the Bulldogs players celebrated.
The first three series of the game didn't see one first down, but Mississippi State put some points on the board on its second possession.
Relf completed a 30-yard pass to Chad Bumphis to gain the Florida 34, and Relf scampered 16 yards on the next play. The drive stalled from there, leading to Sean Brauchle's 31-yard field goal seven minutes into the contest.
Florida drove down to the Bulldogs' 34 on the next possession and went for it on 4th-and-5, but Brantley was picked off, giving Mississippi State possession on its own 36.
An 11-play, 64-yard march ensued, culminating in Relf's six-yard run into the end zone for a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Bulldogs converted a pair of third downs, including a 3rd-and-2 from the Florida 16 on a LaDarius Perkins five-yard rush over the right tackle.
The second quarter was a defensive battle. Florida inexplicably went for it on 4th-and-1 from its on 39 in the early moments, and didn't covert. The Gators' defense, however, forced the Bulldogs to punt from the 37.
Florida had a chance to put points on the board with seven minutes until halftime, but Henry missed a 38-yard field goal, allowing the Bulldogs to take a 10-point lead into halftime.
The Gators finally cashed in on their first series of the second half, traveling 80 yards in 13 plays. Florida decided to run on 3rd-and-7 from its own 23, but Burton was able to gain 16 yards for the first down. During the drive, 11 rushes were called, while both pass attempts fell incomplete. Hines finished it off with a five-yard run into the end zone for a three-point game with 4:15 left in the third.
The Bulldogs used Florida's strategy of going to the run, and it put them in good position to extend their lead, but Brauchle missed a 40-yard field goal with 10:56 left.