On a night when both offenses struggled most of the game, Auburn took an early 7-0 lead on a 50-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Casinious Moore in the first quarter.
Mississippi State came right back after the touchdown run to drive the ball from their own 20-yard line to Auburn's side of the field only to see the drive stall when senior running back Dicenzo Miller, playing with an ankle injury, fumbled the ball at the Tigers' 20-yard line.
In the second quarter, Mississippi State finally got on the board with a John Michael Marlin 42-yard field goal.
During the next six possessions, three by Mississippi State and three by Auburn, neither team could muster any offense, punting the ball five times and intercepting one pass.
Mississippi State finally ended the defensive stalemate with 21-yard field goal to score the last points of the first half and make the score 7-6, Auburn.
Mississippi State, after an excellent kickoff return to begin the third quarter, started a long drive at their own 41-yard line that ended at Auburn's 1-yard line. On fourth-and-one Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill decided to go for the touchdown instead of a field goal, only to see Auburn's Alton Moore stop junior running back Dontae Walker one yard short of the goal line.
"On short yardage situations like that, we need to make those plays," said Coach Sherrill.
Auburn, taking the ball over at their own 1-yard line, came up short on third down and had to punt the ball. Mississippi State broke through the Auburn punt protection to block the ball, seemingly putting themselves in excellent field position within the Auburn 10-yard line. However, a crucial facemask penalty not only gave the ball back to Auburn but also gave them a first down. "That was a big, big play in the game," said Coach Sherrill.
Auburn could do nothing with the ball and on fourth down, Auburn, hoping to catch Mississippi State off-guard, attempted a fake punt. Junior Julius Griffith ran down and tackled Auburn's punter just short of the first-down marker.
Mississippi State now had the ball at the Auburn 46-yard line. After moving down to the 37-yard line, Mississippi State senior quarterback Wayne Madkin hit junior wide receiver Justin Jenkins for a 37-yard scoring strike to take a 12-7 lead. Mississippi State followed the touchdown with a 2-point conversion to make the score 14-7.
Auburn came right back, after starting on their own 31-yard line, to drive the ball down to Mississippi State's 13-yard line. After failing to convert a first-down, Auburn settled for a 30-yard field goal by Damon Duval to cut the Mississippi State lead to 14-10.
On the next series, Mississippi State started at their own 29-yard line. After coming up short on fourth down, the Bulldogs attempted to punt the ball but saw it blocked by Tim Carter. Mississippi State's defense stopped the Auburn Tigers on third down. Auburn settled for a 19-yard field goal to cut the Mississippi State lead to one.
Mississippi State failed on its next two possessions to earn a first down, setting up the game-winning field goal by Damon Duval.
On one of those possessions Mississippi State, "had third and one and had the right play called but we don't block a guy even though we have three offensive linemen there to block him," said Coach Sherrill. "We block that guy we are way down the field."
Auburn gained 293 total yards, 214 on the ground, while Mississippi State gained 285 yards. Auburn led in first downs with 16 to Mississippi State's 13.
"Auburn ran the ball very, very well against us," said Coach Sherrill. "You can't win when you give your opponent that many yards rushing."
Coach Sherrill went on to say that, "the effort was there but at the end of the game we just didn't finish, we didn't make the plays on offense, defense or the kicking game to win the game."
Mississippi State had a couple of injuries to key players during the game.
"We got two players injured (Dicenzo Miller and Tommy Kelly) and won't know until (Sunday), Monday or Tuesday about them," said Coach Sherrill. "You have to give both of them a lot of credit for playing hurt and playing well."
With their title chances all but out the window Mississippi State now turns its attention to another goal. "We can still win out. We can have a seven-game run and have a good year," explained Coach Sherrill. "We have the ability to do that."
Coach Sherrill went on to say that, "now is the test for all of us, not only our players and coaches, but our fans as well. We have to do everything to help each other."
Auburn will play at home against Florida next Saturday while Mississippi State tries to regroup by facing Troy State on homecoming weekend.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.