The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — Mississippi State controlled most of the first half against Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs just couldn’t convert their opportunities into points and that cost them any chance of pulling off the upset of the 13th ranked team.
J.W. Walsh threw for 135 yards and ran for another 125 and a touchdown to lead the Cowboys to a 21-3 win over the Bulldogs in the Texas Kickoff Saturday.
Devon Bell kicked a 40-yard field goal 8:38 into the game, but the Bulldogs converted just two of their 16 third-down opportunities and watched their chances slip away.
“We made a lot of first-game mistakes that come in games like this in this time of the season,” said Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen. “We had some opportunities in the first half to put more points on the board and to score some more points.
“Offensively, we have a lot of adjustments to make. We have some things we need to clean up before next week. The turnovers were definitely momentum changers.”
LaDarius Perkins rushed for 50 yards on 16 carries and caught three passes for 52 yards for the Bulldogs (0-1), which had only 333 yards of offense and had trouble keeping drives going.
Tyler Russell was 10 of 16 for 133 yards before being helped off the field and taken to the locker room in the third quarter after being brought down on a scramble. Dak Prescott replaced Russell, throwing for 89 yards on seven of 17 passing.
“Overall, he is going to be OK,” said Mullen, who would not specify any injury to Russell. “Anytime you have a head or neck injury, you’re going to take every precaution, and I know he is going to get it looked at again.”
Walsh finished 18 of 27 after relieving starter Clint Chelf on the Cowboys’ third series. Jeremy Smith rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for Oklahoma State (1-0), which piled up 432 yards on offense after struggling for most of the first half.
Oklahoma State’s defense also had three sacks and intercepted two Mississippi State passes. Oklahoma State’s offense gained only 67 yards with less than four minutes remaining in the first half before Walsh got going.
Walsh worked the quarterback keeper three times for gains of 46 yards down the left sideline, 12 yards down the left sideline to the MSU 3 and capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys a 7-3 lead with 2:16 left in the half.
OSU continued the offensive momentum in the second half, driving 75 yards in 11 plays to take a 14-3 lead on a Smith 1-yard run with 10:41 left in the third.
Smith tacked on a 20-yard touchdown run to begin the fourth quarter to up the lead to 21-3.
“We were 2-for-16 on third downs, and that’s terrible,” Mullen said. “And those were momentum killers early on. We missed some short ones early on, and even though we controlled the tempo for the most part, we just could not get anything going.”
The Bulldogs looked to respond before the half as Jameon Lewis weaved the kickoff return 66 yards to the OSU 34, but a holding penalty and a sack by Tyler Johnson stopped the drive.
Mississippi State marched down the field in 57 yards on 13 plays taking over six minutes off the clock, but the Bulldogs were only able to get Bell’s field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Russell was 5 of 7 on the drive for 58 yards.
“Defense did their job, but as an offense, we need to do better,” Lewis said. “I put that on us, and I am pretty sure everyone else is going to put that on themselves, too.
“The game started pretty well, but then we fell off. We’re going to learn from this. I think we are going to sit back, watch some film and learn from our mistakes. We’ll get better.”
Read more in Sunday’s Daily Journal newspaper.