John Bond completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Danny Knight with one minute left yesterday to lift ninth-ranked Mississippi State to a 21-17 Southeastern Conference victory over host Auburn.

Auburn (3-4) appeared to be on the way to an upset before the Tigers made a critical mistake, giving the ball to State at midfield with 2:28 left.

Auburn, holding a 17-14 lead, had a fourth and two at the State 49 and attempted to lure State offside. A State player did jump, but quickly returned before making contact. As he got back, the Auburn center snapped the ball and the Tigers were dropped for no gain on the fourth-down play, with State taking possession.

Bond passed to Knight on a fourth-and-10 play at the Auburn 18 and passed to him again on the next play for the winning score.

The win boosted Mississippi State to 6-1 and kept the Bulldogs in the race for the SEC title and a Sugar Bowl bid. Auburn fell to 3-4, 1-2.

State dominated the first half and led 14-7 at halftime, but Auburn appeared headed for the victory after Christopher Martin returned a blocked kick 32 yards for a touchdown and Al Del Greco kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.