FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Dominique Johnson scored the go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds left and Arkansas rallied to beat Mississippi State, 31-28.

The Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3 in SEC) had an opportunity to tie the game with two seconds left, but kicker Nolan McCord missed a 40-yard try, giving Arkansas the win. McCord took the kick after Mississippi State’s first-string kicker Brandon Ruiz missed his first two of the game, including one from 23 yards.

The win makes Arkansas (6-3, 2-3) bowl-eligible, under non-COVID qualifications, for the first time since 2016 and gives the Razorbacks their second win this season over a team ranked inside the College Football Playoff top 25.

“We didn’t just win the Super Bowl but it feels like it,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “Very, very excited to know we’re going to play in December or January.”

The Razorbacks, trailing 28-23 with one minute left, appeared to have lost when KJ Jefferson’s pass into the flat on fourth down from the Mississippi State 25 fell incomplete. However, the Bulldogs were called for holding, Arkansas moved up to the 15 and two plays later, Johnson scored on a 4-yard run.

Mississippi State had twice come back from two scores down to take the lead. The last of which came on the series before, when Will Rogers found Jo’quavious Marks for a 15-yard score with 2:22 left. Jefferson and the Razorbacks went 75 yards on 10 plays in 2:01 on the game-winning drive.

“We lost this game by one play, which, we had plenty of plays the first half and in the second half, too, to win this game,” Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said. “You’ve got to make those plays in a comprehensive fashion, one on top of the next.”

Rogers finished 36 of 48 for 417 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.

Johnson, who began the year as the fourth-string running back, made his first start of the season and ran for 107 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns.

Jefferson had his most efficient game of the season, completing 19 of 23 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. Treylon Burks, who entered as the SEC’s leader in yards receiving, caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.

PURE POISE

Jefferson, the sophomore first-year starter, had only 14 yards rushing on 11 carries, despite averaging 52 yards a game on the ground entering Saturday. Were it not for his scramble on the penultimate play of Arkansas’ go-ahead drive, though, the Razorbacks likely wouldn’t have won. Jefferson was pressured behind the line of scrimmage, but broke four Mississippi State tackles and turned a four-yard loss into a five-yard gain and a first down.

“He was so poised in that two-minute drive,” Pittman said of his quarterback. “KJ, he really has gotten better. He’s a heck of a quarterback. Going 19 for 23, no interceptions. Played a heck of a football game.”

RANKED HOGS?

Pittman thinks Arkansas deserves a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings when they’re next released. Mississippi State was No. 17 in the initial rankings and Texas A&M, which Arkansas beat in Week 4, was No. 13.

“They (Mississippi State) were basically looked at as the best 5-3 team in the country,” Pittman said. “I know we played them here, I know we had a bye game, but I also know we won the game. Absolutely I think we’re a top 25 team in the country. We deserve it.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Arkansas snapped a three-game SEC losing streak and could re-enter the Top 25. The Razorbacks’ win ensures their first .500-or-better regular season since 2016.

Mississippi State lost to Arkansas for the second straight season.

UP NEXT

Arkansas travels next week to play LSU in Baton Rouge, where the Razorbacks have won just three times since joining the SEC in 1992, the last of which came in 2015.

Mississippi State travels to Auburn.