The highlight for the Bulldogs during the first quarter and for the game was the running of red-shirt freshman running back Fred Reid. Reid ran the ball 12 times for 54 yards before giving way to junior running back Dontae Walker who had to sit out the first quarter due to being late for a class. Fred showed excellent quickness hitting holes and showed the ability to stop on a dime and then change directions. After the first quarter, he did not play another down the rest of the game.
"Fred ran the ball well and ran the ball hard," said Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill. "Dontae did not start because we have a class attendance policy and (he) was late for a class," said Coach Sherrill. "The only good thing we can say right now is the guys are going to class but you have to have W's on the field and that is my responsibility."
Less than a minute after the second quarter started, the Trojans started a drive at their 46-yard line that would ultimately put them ahead 7 to 0.
On a third down play that the Trojans failed to convert, the Bulldogs were called for a holding penalty that gave the Trojans new life. After gaining three yards on first down, Troy State quarterback Brock Nutter completed a thirty-seven yard touchdown pass to Demontray Carter.
On Mississippi State's next possession, the Bulldogs began a drive at their own 29-yard line. Madkin completed a 27-yard pass to Justin Griffith that took the ball to Troy State's 44-yard line. After two runs by Walker that netted 5 yards, Madkin rushed for five yards and a first down. On third and six on the Trojans 30-yard line, Madkin threw a pass that was intercepted by Rayshun Reed. Reed ran it in for a 73-yard touchdown. The Trojans now led the Bulldogs 14 to 0.
"We should have looked for the ball but the defensive player made a great play on the ball," said Coach Sherrill.
Mississippi State did very little on their next possession and had to punt the ball. Jared Cook punted the ball 47 yards only to see Troy State's Heyward Skipper return it for 35 yards to the MSU 40-yard line.
Troy State, behind the running of Demontray Carter (3 carries, 40 yards), put the ball in the end zone on a 23-yard scamper by Carter.
The score was now 21 to 0, Troy State.
On the next drive, the Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard behind the passing of Madkin (3-of-4, 49 yards). On first and ten from the Trojans 22-yard line, Madkin threw a touchdown pass to Justin Jenkins. The Bulldogs missed the extra point.
Troy State now led 21- 6.
After Troy State punted on their next possession, the Bulldogs ran the clock out to end the first half.
On Troy State's first possession of the second half, the Bulldogs' Demetric Wright intercepted a pass on a third and twenty play and returned it to the MSU 40-yard line. The MSU offense could do nothing with the opportunity given to them by the defense and had to punt the ball.
Later in the third quarter the Bulldogs once again drove down the field to the Trojans 10-yard line. The Bulldogs had to settle for a John Michael Marlin 24-yard field goal to make the score 21-9.
The Bulldogs' defense once again created a turnover when Shawn Byrdsong forced Chris Cox to fumble the ball. The Bulldogs' Tommy Kelly recovered the fumble at the Trojans' 10-yard line. The Bulldog offense once again squandered a golden opportunity when they failed to convert on a third and seven and fourth and seven at the Trojan 8-yard line.
In the fourth quarter the defenses dominated the game, allowing neither offense to score the rest of the game.
"We got in a hole early and could not come out of it," said Coach Sherrill. "We didn't protect well, giving up four sacks. Defensively, I thought we came back and played better in the second half. Offensively, we did not and could not get any continuity or chemistry between the receivers, quarterbacks and offensive line. We have to get Dicenzo (Miller) back. Your best football player, offensively, is not out there and that really hurts." Coach Sherrill also said that, "we haven't caught the ball well all year long. The timing between the quarterback and the receivers is just not there."
Coach Sherrill went on to say that, "you have to find the 11 guys who have the chemistry to do those things. Right now, we don't have 11 on either side of the ball that is executing. We will look at the film and make a decision and put them out there. The responsibility starts with me. As a head coach, you have to be responsible for things that aren't going well."
Wide receiver Justin Jenkins agreed with Coach Sherrill about the lack of execution. "Execution is the key. It is not something that we can worry about. The more you worry about it, the worse you will be. We just have to go out there and do it. Practice is the key to everything."
When asked about the dropped passes by the receivers, Justin said, "I feel it is a lack of concentration. It is a mindset, a lack of confidence. We have to get that (confidence) back this week and get ready for LSU."
Final stats saw the Bulldogs lead with 272 total yards to the Trojans' 212 yards. The Bulldogs also led in time of possession 33:52 to 26:08 for the Trojans. Both teams had three interceptions while the Trojans fumbled the ball four times losing two and the Bulldogs fumbled three times losing one.
Individually, the Bulldogs were led in rushing by Dontae Walker with 73 yards on 18 carries. "I thought that Dontae ran the ball hard, but we didn't give him any help as for as throwing and catching the ball," said Coach Sherrill. Wayne Madkin was 12-of-30 for 140 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Harold Lindsey led the receivers with 30 yards on 2 catches. Pig Prather led the Bulldogs' defense in tackles with 9 (7 solo). Sophomore defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, continuing to play well, recorded 6 tackles, three behind the line of scrimmage.
Troy State was led in rushing by Demontray Carter with 59 yards on 14 carries. Brock Nutter passed the ball 26 times completing 10 while throwing 3 interceptions. He also completed one pass for a touchdown. Heyward Skipper caught 4 passes for 46 yards to lead Troy State.
Mississippi State had quite a few players that were injured during the game. "Justin (Griffith) will probably not be back next week," said Coach Sherrill. "There is a question about Courtney Lee being back and whether Conner Stephens will be back next week."
Searching for answers to a 1 and 4 start, Coach Sherrill said leadership, "may be a problem. Every football team is led by its seniors. Unfortunately our seniors, other than (Dicenzo Miller), are not making the plays so that they jump out and (the other players) follow them." Coach Sherrill went on to say that, "good players make good plays and great players make great plays. Right now I don't know if we have enough good players to have the football team that we are accustomed to having here. The most pressing need for this team is to find the 11 players that play well together. We also need to find the two receivers that will fit in and play. We also have to analyze (this team) and do the things that we are capable of doing."
With the defense improving and the offense seemingly going backwards, some teams might see some dissension between the two. According to dog safety Shawn Byrdsong, "naturally you may get upset but a team is like a family and you don't stay mad at your family. You just go out there and play even harder."
Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly agreed with Shawn. "You can't point fingers. You tear the team down even more by pointing fingers. When you point fingers you are going to have problems. You can't do that. Coach Sherrill makes sure we are together. I think we are going to be alright."
Mississippi State, continuing to search for the pieces to a puzzle that seems to get more and more difficult to put together, will play LSU at home next 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.