Missed chances cost Bulldogs

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal


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OXFORD – Mississippi State will be haunted for the longest time by its missed opportunities.
The Bulldogs forced three turnovers in the first half, including two interceptions by linebacker Cam Lawrence, but turned none of them into points. Those chances didn’t come in the second half, and State found itself asking “what if” after a 41-24 loss to rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Saturday.
“When you’re on the road in this league and you get opportunities and you don’t capitalize on them, you’re not going to be successful,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said.
Lawrence’s first interception of Bo Wallace came after Ole Miss had reached the Bulldogs’ 3-yard line in a 7-7 game. The MSU drive ended with a missed 41-yard field goal by freshman Devon Bell.
State led 14-7 when Lawrence struck again, but the ensuing drive went nowhere.
In the second quarter, Wallace was hit by Denico Autry – his former teammate at East Mississippi Community College – and fumbled at the Ole Miss 33-yard line.
Two plays later, MSU quarterback Tyler Russell was picked off by Dehendret Collins to keep the game tied at 17-17.
“We came in at halftime, it wasn’t even supposed to be tied up,” receiver Jameon Lewis said. “We shot ourselves in the foot.”
There was also a key trip to the red zone in the second quarter that came up empty for MSU. It was leading 14-10 and facing a fourth-and-2 at the Ole Miss 18.
After each team took a timeout, backup QB Dak Prescott threw incomplete for Chad Bumphis. Charles Sawyer broke it up.
“We’re down the red zone, and I wanted to score a touchdown,” Mullen said. “It’s a big game, we’re here to win. You could feel it was going to be kind of an explosive game and some scoring going on.”
As for Wallace, he settled in after the first-half turnovers and got the Rebel offense moving. Ole Miss scored on its first four possessions of the second half, including three touchdown passes by Wallace.
The junior finished 15 of 22 for 294 yards and five TDs.
“I think coming into the game I let my emotions play into the game more than they should have,” Wallace said. “But in the second half I settled down and eliminated turnovers, and it worked.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com