Randy Charlton has his hand in Instant Classic play to earn Mississippi State’s Egg Bowl victory over Ole Miss

OXFORD — Randy Charlton recalls the pain that came as Mississippi State’s 2021 senior class ended its regular season with an Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss.

The Bulldogs lost 31-21 to the Rebels at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, their second straight loss to their state rivals.

Charlton got his chance to make amends on Saturday.

He tapped away a scoop pass from Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart, thwarting the Rebels’ binding two-point conversion attempt 1:25 to play.

“I just worked for this team and I gave everything for them,” said Charlton.

Charlton said the distraction was easy. Lined up on the outside, he realized a play in the state of Mississippi runs “24/7” in practice. He saw a dart throw to wide receiver Jonathan Mingo down the middle and extended his right arm to smash the pass away.

The play halted the Rebels’ momentum after a 15-play for 99 yards sent them on the brink of closing an eight-point deficit.

“I was about to have a heart attack,” said running back Dillon Johnson. “We were down there on the goal line and didn’t finish. When we got this stop it was just a relief for me.”

Johnson said he felt “sick” as quarterback Will Rogers fumbled the football on a goaltender at the opposite goal line – seconds after a run on which Johnson was “100 percent” certain he had scored.

Instead, Rogers fumbled away Mississippi State’s chance to freeze the game, and it came down to that two-point play in the southwest end zone.

Ole Miss called two timeouts before the attempt, giving MSU no chance after failing to recover the ensuing onside kick.

The Bulldogs knocked down the ball three times to seal their first win over the Rebels since 2019.

After the game, coach Mike Leach praised Charlton’s efforts in the rivalry win.

“I just think he’s a big, strong guy and he lives in some kind of world of destruction,” Leach said.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Charlton joined MSU after being kicked out of the UCF’s soccer team in 2020.

It’s been a tough time defensively, but he’s settled in well.

Charlton said the Bulldogs’ players, coaches and supervisors welcomed him into the herd — so much so that he said Starkville is “really my second home now.”

“To be able to give this win to my team, my boys, my hometown… it was just a great moment,” said Charlton.

It’s a moment whose meaning for Charlton is being lost — for now.

When asked if he could imagine what it was like to have done one of the most important plays in Egg Bowl history, Charlton’s answer was simple.

He could not.

“I really haven’t thought about it,” he said. “You just got me thinking. I might cry a little. It’s a surreal moment.”

Theo DeRosa covers Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.

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