A couple of late touchdown drives made the showdown between No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 6 Texas A&M look closer on the scoreboard than it was. They gave Kenny Hill's stats a boost, too.
The Texas A&M quarterback knew the deal, though.
"They just beat us," Hill said. "They had a great game plan and just stomped us. Credit them."
Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes, added three Tebow-style TD runs, and Mississippi State overwhelmed Texas A&M 48-31 on Saturday as a new contender emerged in the SEC West.
The Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first half and never let the high-scoring Aggies (5-1, 2-1) get close enough to threaten the lead — or quiet the Bulldogs fans and their clanging cowbells at Davis Wade Stadium.
Hill threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns, two in the fourth quarter after the Bulldogs were up 48-17. He was also picked off three times by linebacker Richie Brown, who matched a Mississippi State record.
"We still took some shots downfield, we just missed them," Hill said. "We could never get the run going." And the Aggies' receivers, sans leading receiver Malcolme Kennedy, who sat out with an injury, dropped about 10 catchable passes.
Bad day all around.
"It doesn't take a coach to see that Malcome Kennedy is a pretty important player for us and not just from a playing standpoint but in leadership, too," A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We didn't play very well, but Mississippi State had a lot to do with that."
Prescott first plowed into the end zone for two short TDs and pretty much sealed the deal for the Bulldogs with an 11-yard quarterback draw to make it 48-17 in the fourth quarter. The junior finished 19 for 25 for 259 yards and ran for 77 yards.
"He played today like he's played all year — like one of the best players in the country," Sumlin said. "And as a team, we just couldn't match that today."
The Bulldogs showed beating LSU for the first time in 15 years a couple weeks ago was no fluke. They dominated A&M in almost every way. Josh Robinson ran for 107 yards and two scores and linebacker Benardrick McKinney helped harass Hill.
"When you have great coverage, you have great pressure, and when you have great pressure, you have great coverage," Brown said. "It went hand-in-hand."
A&M scored on its first offensive series, zipping down the field with ease to make it 7-0 on a 13-yard pass from Hill to Josh Reynolds.
Mississippi State's response was a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Robinson's 1-yard run. Less than five minutes in it was 7-7 and the back-and-forth affair expected between two of the best offenses in the country seemed underway.
But only the Bulldogs kept it up. Robinson's second short scoring run made it 14-7 late in the first quarter and Prescott pushed through tacklers for a 1-yard TD with 8:33 left in the second to make it 21-7.
The clanging cowbells might have been loud enough to hear 90 miles up the road in Oxford, where No. 3 Alabama and No. 11 Mississippi were the second game of the Magnolia State's monster twin bill on Saturday.
Brown's second interception of Hill in a span of five plays set up Mississippi State at the Aggies' 48 with 4:39 left in the second quarter.
Eight plays later, Prescott fired a low strike to De'Runnya Wilson for a 9-yard score and a 28-7 lead.
Prescott's next Tebow-esque touchdown run, a 2-yard bull rush in the third quarter, made it 34-10. A&M blocked the point after kick and then responded with a touchdown of its own.
Freshman Speedy Noil went up high to make a grab a few yards in front of the goal line, and then spun and stretched the ball to the pylon. The highlight-reel play cut the lead to 34-17 with 3:33 left in the third.
Just when it looked as if A&M might have some life, Mississippi State unleashed another Dak attack.
Prescott zipped a deep out toward the sideline for Fred Brown, who reached high for the grab, slipped away from a tackler and went 51 yards for the score.
A week after surviving in OT against Arkansas, the Aggies fell flat in Starkville. They return home next week but it gets no easier in the SEC West. Next up: Ole Miss, followed by a trip to Alabama.
"We have a long season ahead us," Hill said, "and we're only on game six."
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP