By Brad Locke
HOUSTON – After one quarter of play, Mississippi State was dominating Oklahoma State in total yardage and time of possession. Yet it had just a 3-0 lead.
It went downhill from there. The Bulldogs’ offense hit a wall on Saturday and couldn’t climb over it in a 21-3 loss to the Cowboys at Reliant Stadium.
After piling up 148 yards of offense in the first quarter – and controlling the clock – MSU had just 54 yards over the next two quarter as Oklahoma State built up its lead. The Bulldogs finished the game with 333 total yards – 222 passing, 111 rushing.
“We got too many penalties, and people probably weren’t mentally focused at the time on the play,” tailback LaDarius Perkins said. “We’ve just got to make sure we clean it up in practice this week.”
MSU was penalized 11 times for 74 yards, with six of those flags thrown on the offense. Perhaps more damaging to the effort was a failure to convert on third downs – the Bulldogs were just 2 of 16.
“That’s terrible. They were momentum killers, especially early on,” head coach Dan Mullen said.
Two of the failed conversions involved backup quarterback Dak Prescott, who last year was often used in short-yardage situations because of the combination of his running ability and his size.
Prescott was dropped for a loss on a third-and-1 in the second quarter, and in the third quarter he came up a yard short on a third-and-2 run.
“Those were big to the game, and those were tough not being able to convert,” Prescott said. “I think that put a little dent in the offense right there.”
Perkins started fast, gaining 54 rushing yards in the first quarter. But he finished the game with 50 yards on 16 carries, and he also had 52 yards on three catches.
“We started off pretty fast,” Perkins said. “We made some big plays, but you’ve got to keep making big plays and don’t take any steps back with penalties and things like that.”