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November 2, 2013

GAME RECAP: Turnovers Doom Bulldogs' Upset Bid

Coming in to this weekend, the Mississippi State Bulldogs had just six turnovers in the first seven days. Things escalated quickly on Saturday as MSU (4-4, 1-3) turned it over five times resulting in 24 South Carolina points as the Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2) rolled to victory, 34-16 in Columbia.

Dak Prescott threw a career-high three interceptions and fumbled the ball for four of the turnovers. The sophomore quarterback was also a career-high 28-43 passing for 237 yards while rushing for each of MSU's two scores with 15 carries and 78 yards.

The Bulldogs started the game defensively as South Carolina was led on the field by the veteran Connor Shaw at quarterback. The Gamecocks started at their own 25. State forced two incomplete passes with a nice rush on Shaw and the Gamecocks were forced into a three and out. After a shanked punt, the Bulldogs started around midfield.

The Bulldogs had a dominating drive going nine plays in 60 yards. Prescott went a perfect 3-3 with 24 yards and rushed twice for 16 yards, the second a two-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with over eight min. left in the first quarter.

The Gamecocks would quickly answer though with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Shaw capping a five-play, 71-yard drive for a quick score to get back even with the Bulldogs, 7-7 with 6:23 left in the first quarter. MSU started their second drive from their own 25 after the touchback.

Prescott started off with a 21-yard read option up the middle of the field to get the Bulldogs in business. But two passes to Jameon Lewis went for loss and a third down pass was knocked down. Devon Bell booted the ball 45 yards down to the 10. South Carolina would go three-and-out and safety Nickoe Whitley ended the drive with a nice pass breakup. State started at their own 42.

In two plays, Prescott threw an interception and the Gamecocks were in business at their own 46. Three plays later, South Carolina made the Bulldogs pay with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Shaw to Shaq Roland, the second of the day. USC took the 14-7 lead with 1:20 left in the first. State converted a couple of third down plays, but would throw the second interception in a row when Prescott was forced into pressure and threw the ball to center Dillon Day who bobbled the ball and it was caught by USC. They took over at the MSU 27.

State's defense got the stop with the three and out, but field position was all the Gamecocks needed as they took the 17-7 lead with the field goal and 11:25 left in the first half. After a three and out and a 62-yard punt by Bell, USC took over at their own five. MSU's defense stood tall and forced another three-and-out and State took over at their own 47. They would move just 32 yards on nine plays but Evan Sobiesk hit the 38-yard field goal to get the game to 17-10 with 4:15 left in the half.

Both defenses would get two stops at the end of the half but the Bulldogs made one last push. State had 33 yards with a 22-yard reception from Lewis and an 11-yard run from Ladarius Perkins. Two rushes by Prescott for 21 yards had MSU down to the USC 30 with 21 seconds left when MSU imploded. Prescott was nearly sacked but threw the ball away and was called for intentional grounding. MSU called a timeout and then another was called when Prescott saw the defense leaving them with 0 with 13 seconds left. The second down pass went for seven yards when the field goal unit ran on to the field while the offense tried to spike the ball. The clock ran out and MSU got no points. Dan Mullen showed his frustrations on the field and during the radio interview at halftime calling the half, "embarrassing".

Despite a rough first half for the offense, MSU was only down 17-10. The defense forced four-consecutive three and outs and forced Carolina to six total in the first half. USC was 0-for-6 in the first half on third down conversions.

USC started the half looking to get the onside kick but Christian Holmes fell on the ball to give MSU good field position at their own 44. In just two plays, Prescott fumbled the ball on a draw play and USC picked up the ball and ran it back to the MSU 23. The Gamecocks ran four plays and got into the endzone in 1:29 with a seven-yard pass from Shaw to Damiere Byrd. USC took the 24-10 lead with 12:54 left in the third quarter.

State converted a first down but nothing more and was forced to punt as they downed it at the USC 14. South Carolina came right back and seemingly put the game away with an 86-yard drive as Shaw threw his fourth touchdown of the game, this one for four yards to Jerell Adams. USC was rolling with a 31-10 lead and 7:52 left in the third.

After two solid runs from Prescott and Josh Robinson, MSU went to play action and was hit as he threw leading to a ball intercepted. It was his third interception of the game equaling as many as he had the entire year combined. State's defense got a nice stop and forced the 37-yard field goal which was good. USC took the 34-10 lead with 2:07 left in the third quarter.

MSU went three and out and punted the ball back to USC to start the fourth quarter. Bell's punt went down to the USC 12 where they took over again. USC managed a first down but that was all they could do as they punted it right back to MSU. The Bulldogs drove the ball down the field with a converted third down run for Prescott and a fourth-and-six pass to freshman De'Runnya Wilson for 19 yards. Robinson converted a third-and-15 on a screen pass and MSU got inside the redzone. On third and 10, the Bulldogs converted another third down with an 11-yard run after a nifty spin making Jadeveon Clowney miss. MSU had a 15-play, 75-yard drive to get their second touchdown of the game and closed the score to 34-16 with 5:38 left in the game.

Neither team would get anything else trading possessions the rest of the way and South Carolina would get the win, 34-16. MSU out-gained USC on the day with 385 yards to 307. In addition to Prescott, MSU was led by Robert Johnson and Lewis with seven receptions hauling in 53 and 45 yards respectively. Wilson had a career-high three catches for 40 yards and running backs Robinson and Perkins had three catches each for 34 and 29 yards respectively.

Perkins had 12 carries for 40 yards and Robinson had six for 24. MSU now takes its game on the road against top 15 Texas A&M and last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS at 2:30 central.


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