Mississippi State 34, SE Louisiana 10

Southeastern Louisiana took first turn and surprised State with a couple of quick first downs before punting from State's 44-yard line. Derek Pegues quickly regretted catching the kick at the goal line, downed at the two. QB Wesley Carroll made breathing room with a 11-yard throw to WR Aubrey Bell, and if Bell's fingertips were a bit longer he would have pulled in a strike at the Lion 35.

The punt return drew two flags for evident clips, but were waved-off allowing the Lions to start at their 45-yard line. A facemask by S Keith Fitzhugh produced one free first down, then on second down quarterback Mike Neville fumbled and two Dogs had chances to recover. They didn't, and a scramble by Neville got the ball in position for Jeff Turner to nail his 41-yard field goal at 7:06 and give the Lions a 3-0 lead.

It took State less than two minutes to answer, not without first some booing from the impatient home folk. Facing 3rd-and-nine at the 36-yard line State had to call for time which some in the crowd didn't like. Perhaps the results satisfied them, because on a quick drop Carroll threw his best bullet right down the middle, splitting two defenders and finding Marcus Green at the Lion 45-yard line. The tight end was chased down on his first college catch by a trio at the 14-yard line. With the Lions rattled, HB Anthony Dixon took advantage by bouncing around right end and jogging untouched into the end zone at 5:39.

A Lion punt and second-down reverse run by WR Jamayel Smith had State on the good side of midfield the next time, except the wideout also lost the handle and Southeastern recovered at their 42-yard line. They had to punt it over again, downed at the Dogs 21.

Carroll nearly got picked off for six points on a soft flats-throw but luck held and he hit McRae crossing for exactly ten yards. On another third-and-long Carroll found WR Co-Eric Riley for 14 yards and first down to end the quarter. A bootleg-right got WR Brandon McRae open for 12 more yards at the Lion 30. Facing 4th-and-short Croom didn't consider kicking, and while Dixon did some of his old tippy-toeing he finally followed right guard for two yards and the fresh set of downs.

But a throw to Dixon came up two-yards short of the marker, and a false-start by tackle Quentin Saulsberry made kicking certain. Adam Carlson chipped the 33-yarder through at 10:00 for the 10-3 lead.

State DE Tim Bailey should have made it 17-3 as he had a square-out throw on his hands at SeLa's 20-yard line with clear sailing. DT Jessie Bowman swatted the third-down throw away and State got to start with the nose of the ball on mid-field. Carroll called his own number and got 10 yards only to lose the handle himself, though a bad block after the fumble recovery left the Lions all the way back at their 12-yard line. They lost four yards in three snaps, a screen throw smothered by several Dogs. Pegues got 13 yards on the return to SeLa's 31-yard line.

But McRae was looking to run before making the square-out catch on third down, so Carlson earned another call and was good from 41-yards this time making it 13-3 at 5:54.

The ensuing high-kickoff didn't please fans, either. But the Lions made it look good by losing a pitch for nine yards, clipping on a catch behind the line, and taking a sack for 4th-and-26. Punter Cody Samples had a bomb negated on a shift at the line, but punting from his end zone he still hit it 48 yards, with a 13-yard Pegues return to SeLa's 46.

Carroll shook off a sack to find McRae on third down for nine yards and first down, before the Dogs pulled one out of the practice playbook. A double-pitch, flea-flicker, with Bell drifting alone at the 5-yard line. Except Carroll didn't have a firm grip and his wobbler landed at the 15. But HB Christian Ducre kept the drive going on 3rd-and-10 running a draw for 11 yards.

Ducre ran for nine more as the clock hit a minute, then Dixon—who would have been dragged down for a loss by any decent SEC defense—dragged tacklers to the three-yard line. The clock was still running and Ducre only got two yards as State used the last timeout at 0:10. Running likely meant just one shot to get it in before halftime, and the Dogs lined up in a pure power-I.

Only, Carroll spun the other way, to his left, with three good choices; keep and try for the goal, get out of bounds and stop the clock, or…under-hand flip it to TE Austin Wilbanks waiting in the end zone. Which Carroll did and the walk-on made the catch with five seconds to spare for the 20-3 intermission margin. The Bulldog offense already had 250 yards on 40 plays; or almost as many snaps as the Lions had net yards, 43.

State started the new half from their 35 and made an immediate statement. Consecutive throws to McRae for 15 and 13 yards were followed by Ducre getting 13 yard on a pitch and Dixon pounding for eight. With third-and-goal from the three the formation again said ‘run'. But Carroll took one step back and threw high and soft for McRae, who had both position and height on Lion corner Tony Johnson. The end-zone catch made it 27-3 at 9:36.

Soon enough it was 34-3, because on second down DT Cortez McCraney came up with a fumble at SeLa's 27-yard line. After throwing to McRae for eight yards, it was all A.D., all the time. He ran for one, three, eight, and eight yards on consecutive carries to get his 27th career touchdown at 6:21, and tie the Bulldog career mark with Michael Davis (1991-94).

A sack of Tyler Beatty in a four-Dog pile produced the next Lion punt, putting State on their 44-yard line with Tyson Lee taking over as quarterback. He converted on 3rd-and-3 by finding Bell on the sideline, then scrambled for six and completed a short throw that HB Robert Elliot turned into 19 yards. Three Elliot runs left a 4th-and-5, where Carlson's streak of nine-straight field goals ended on a low liner.

It was still 34-3 at 9:35 of the fourth quarter when Southeastern got a real drive going, partly helped by going against a ‘scratch' defensive lineup as reserves got into action. Key was a bit hitter as Beatty found DeMari Simmons open for a 70-yard play down to the MSU eight-yard line with freshman S Charles Mitchell stopping it there. The Lions should have faced a 4th-and-3 as Beatty unloaded under pressure, but State S Zach Smith was flagged for holding an eligible receiver in the end zone.

Given another chance from the one-yard line Southeastern's Jay Lucas crashed the center for the score at 4:54. State got two more turns with the ball, chances for redshirt Chris Relf to take his first snaps at quarterback.


Gene's Page Top Stories