Rebels Blank Bulldogs To Regain Golden Egg

Mississippi State won the toss but deferred, giving Ole Miss first turn with the ball starting at their 24-yard line. A play-action pass on first down to Shay Hodge produced an immediate 20 yards, and the Rebels were on their way to the first points of the afternoon.

Hodge moved the chains twice again with catches of nine and ten yards. On 2nd-and-4 at the Bulldog 36-yard line, Dexter McCluster took the end-around pitch, shed a State safety and was gone down the right sideline for the touchdown at 12:40.

Mississippi State's first series wasn't quite so successful, beginning from the 14-yard line. After HB Anthony Dixon got nothing on first down, QB Tyson Lee went down hard unloading a throw and came up with what turned out to be a shoulder sprain. His delay in getting back to the huddle forced the Bulldogs to use a timeout. Lee was hit again completing a short throw to WR Aubrey Bell.

A true reverse run, by wideout Mike Wallace for 17 yards, put the Rebel offense back on State's side of the field at the 32-yard line. This drive stopped as quarterback Jevan Snead was knocked back on a keeper, and PK Josh Shene kicked the 44-yard field goal through at 8:08 for a 10-0 lead.

The Bulldogs were handed a break as Ole Miss' kickoff went out of bounds. And Lee did hook up with Bell for a quick nine-plus yards. Instead of the obvious handoff for the first down, the Dogs even showed some flair by throwing on second-and-short…except Lee's try for a short slant was low and picked off by linebacker Ashlee Palmer at the 46-yard line.

Again Hodge did the big damage, getting open in front of Pegues for a 30-yard strike. Then on third down at the ten-yard line Hodge slipped into the middle for an easy catch, spun away from LB Dominic Douglas and into the end zone at 4:31 for a 17-0 lead.

Wesley Carroll took over at quarterback for the next series, which opened at the 32. Dixon punched ahead for 11 yards on the opening snap for State's initial first down. But on 3rd-and-10 Carroll was caught from the right side by end Greg Hardy; the ball popped up and into the hands of tackle Jerrell Powe at the Bulldog 35-yard line.

A 16-yard catch and run by Enrique Davis put the Rebels on the 21, and two snaps later Snead threw a long fade to the left side of the end zone where Wallace had position on substitute corner Damein Anderson for the touchdown at 0:36.

Leading 24-0 the Ole Miss defense was free to blitz at will and on third down dropped Carroll for a loss of 13 yards. Blake McAdams' did well to get off a 30-yard punt, but on second down Snead didn't see LB Karlin Brown lurking underneath and was intercepted—his first incompletion of the game, albeit caught by the wrong team. Brown returned the pick 20 yards to the Rebel 45.

Lee returned under-center and pulled off a 14-yard scramble for first down at the 26. Dixon was swarmed for a four-yard loss and a motion penalty put State in 2nd-and-18. Lee tried to go long for McRae, unsuccessfully, and was slammed to the turf for his efforts at 10:29 with a cut to his face. Carroll tried to throw as he was dragged down from behind, earning a grounding call, and McAdams punted with a short return to the UM 25-yard line.

Sneed scrambled on third down for 11 yards and a fresh set, and another Wallace reverse got 11 more yards to the Rebel 48. A pitch to McCluster and hard cut through left tackle produced a dozen yards, but on 3rd-and-8 Snead finally felt some pressure and his down-the-middle try was deflected by CB Jasper O'Quinn. Shene had the length on his 50-yard field goal try but it ran into the left upright at 6:51.

Still there were more and worse Bulldog breaks, as on second-down WR Brandon McRae running a decoy route went down on his own and had to be carted off with a compound fracture of the tibia. He would be in surgery before the game ended. Meanwhile McAdams' punt was a line-drive to Marshay Green with a 18-yard return to the Bulldog 45-yard line.

The Rebels didn't press the advantage and soon punted, for just 12 yards on a shank giving State possession at their 35 with an even three minutes left. Dixon produced a first down with his 14-yard dash up the middle, before a sack of Carroll lost ten of that. The Rebels used a timeout so a couple of incompletes had McAdams punting at 1:40. He hit it 37 yards but Green lost back to his 18-yard line at 1:26.

A couple of Eason runs produced a first down at the 28, then Snead froze coverage with a slick play-action. Hodge was able to get between and behind safeties Charles Mitchell and Zach Smith for the catch and midfield and unchallenged run into the end zone at 0:42, though some showboating en route meant kicking off from the 15-yard line. State got to start at the 36 and while Carroll found Smith for 14 yards Ole Miss was playing deep to protect the 31-0 halftime lead, and the clock ran out as McAdams' punt rolled dead.

State got to start the second half on their 29-yard line. WR Delmon Robinson got eight yards on a catch before fumbling it forward where Smith recovered for a first down. Then all-out pressure dropped Carroll for losses of seven and 14 yards. A 34-yard punt was returned 13 yards by Green to State's 39.

Snead went ‘hot' to McCluster on third down at State's 28, then Brandon Bolden countered to the short side for 11 more yards. McCluster converted on 3rd-and-1 to the six, kept the direct snap to the one, and on fourth down State bit on the handoff—much like the previous week against Arkansas—and let the quarterback roll right for a flip to tight end Bradley Sowell at 7:09.

Lee returned for the ensuing series and found Co-Eric Riley for 17 yards. His positive scramble was erased by a Dixon hold, and a sack cost another 14 yards. FB Arnil Stallworth only got 13 of that back on his catch.

Hard interior running by Eason pushed the Rebels over mid-field where the Dog defense managed to pressure Snead into a misfire to begin the last quarter. With the game long-gone Chris Relf was sent out to quarterback the fourth period, though his first SEC series lasted three snaps before a 46-yard punt and 13-yard return to State's 42. Ole Mss also changed triggermen, and on first down from the 24 Billy Tapp pitched to Bolen for a cut down the left sideline and touchdown at 12:18.

Like his predecessors, Relf took a beating with four sacks and six incompletions in eight throws. Even a run for first down got called back as blocker Stallworth was charged with a personal foul. The remaining three turns with the ball ended on 4th and 15, 17, and 31 yards, so McAdams—already the most-used punter in SEC history—got to kick it away a dozen times this day.

The stat sheet was almost as ugly as the scoreboard. A week after running for 179 yards against Arkansas, Dixon managed just 17 on eight turns with the ball. And due to eleven (ten listed) sacks of the three MSU quarterbacks, State's rushing total was a negative 51 yards. Lee was 5-of-9 throwing for 49 yards; Carroll 3-of-13 for 26. It all added up to a net of 37 yards on 56 offensive snaps.

The home team had balance, with 220 ground yards and 241 in the air. Snead was 14-of-19 for 213 yards and four scores, and took just one sack. Hodge caught seven balls for 89 yards and Wallace four for 105.

The final margin of Rebel victory was the largest in the Egg Bowl since 1971 when they shut State out 48-0. But it was the second shutout of this decade, along with a 31-0 final at Scott Field in 2003.

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