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November 17, 2013

Bulldogs Strong Defensive Effort Not Enough for the Tide, 20-7.

Mississippi State came out on fire defensively forcing Alabama to just three points in the first 29 minutes but the Bulldog offense couldn't capitalize on defensive help and Alabama would roll to victory, 20-7 in front of 57,211 fans which was the fourth-largest crowd in school history.

Bama took over to start the game at their own 25 and A.J. McCarron immediately went to work with an 18-yard pass to Amari Cooper. Cooper got the pass two players later for nine more yards pushing Bama into MSU territory at the 45. Bama converted a third and nine, but Chris Jones would come up big the next play with a sack of McCarron on first down losing six yards. It was Jones' second career sack and just the ninth given up by Bama all season. MSU forced Bama to a fourth and one but T.J. Yeldon easily got the first down. MSU would hold on the next three downs and force Alabama to a field goal. Bama took the early lead at 3-0 with 8 minutes left in the first quarter.

MSU started their first possession from their own 24 after a 19-yard return from Jameon Lewis and Tyler Russell took the reins as the starter. Ladarius Perkins got MSU's initial first down of the night on a third and one down to the 39. MSU would do nothing after that and punted away to Bama downing the ball at the eight after a 47-yard punt from Devon Bell. It would prove to be big because the Bulldogs would force a three and out allowing just one yard to the Crimson Tide on the drive. Lewis nearly saw disaster as the punt bounced off of him and flew back 10 yards. MSU started at their own 20.

After an MSU three and out, Baker Swedenburg got a big punt of his own with a 54-yarder to the Bama 17. The first quarter ended after a first down by Bama and they began the second quarter from their own 30. MSU answered with another stop and punt and started their third possession from their own two.

MSU got nothing out of it on three plays and again punted it with Swedenburg. It traveled just 32 yards and Bama had great field position at the 43. MSU again stepped up to the plate and forced a three and out for the second time of the night. MSU came out with a six-yard run by Perkins followed up by a 20-yard pass to tight end Malcolm Johnson to the 46. On third down, Russell hooked up with Johnson again this time for 22 yards. After a facemask called on a Perkins carry, the Bulldogs were in business at the 11. State got down to the three yard line but couldn't put it into the endzone and were forced to kick the field goal which was missed from 28 yards out.

MSU's defense again did its job, however, as on third down and 10 McCarron threw an interception off of a tipped pass and Taveze Calhoun came up with it. Again, MSU did nothing offensively with a three and out and Bama had the ball with 2:49 left in the half. This time, they would get the job done. T.J. Yeldon took two big rushes over 60 yards and McCarron finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown to tight end B.J. Vogler. MSU's back was broken to end the half as is usually the case as Bama took the 10-0 lead with 20 seconds left and that would be the halftime margin.

The MSU defense did their part in the first half giving up just 170 yards but 78 of those coming on the final possession. MSU's offense didn't help the cause with just 101 yards total and 24 on the ground. Russell was 9-of-15 for 77 yards and the Bulldog defense forced McCarron to 9-of-19 for just 71 yards a touchdown and an interception.

MSU came out of the half with much of the same offensively with a three and out. Bama started the game from their own 27. After a Yeldon first down, linebacker Matt Wells popped the ball out and it was recovered by Beniquez Brown at midfield. Russell immediately took a shot down field to Malcolm Johnson who hauled in the pass and the first down. On third and three, Russell hit freshman De'Runnya Wilson for 13 yards and a first down to the nine. On the next play, Russell took the reed to the right, was hit at the two, fumbled and in a pile, Charles Siddoway recovered for six points. Bama now led the Bulldogs 10-7 with 10:11 in the third.

Bama took over from their own 23 on the next possession. The Bulldogs got the Tide to third and nine, but McCarron then worked his magic with a 26-yard pass to Christion Jones and a another first down to DeAndrew White. Bama would march the ball inside the 11 yard line where McCarron would find Kevin Norwood for a beautiful pass into the endzone where Bama would take the 17-7 lead with 5:46 left in the third. The answer of the Bulldog touchdown was nine plays and 77 yards.

MSU started their next drive from their own 24 and would convert their first third down of the drive with an 11-yard pass to Malcolm Johnson, his career-high sixth catch with 84 yards. Josh Robinson carried twice in a row for 13 yards and Russell hit Lewis for 13 yards getting the Bulldogs down to the Bama 32. On the next play, Russell took a terrible shot to the endzone that was picked off by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

McCarron started the drive from his own eight and immediately hit a receiver for 21 yards and another for 16 getting Bama to the 44. Yeldon broke off another big run for 25 yards down to the Bulldog 31. The quarter would end with the 17-7 lead for Bama. The Tide started the fourth quarter by converting a third down, but the Bulldogs would hold on the next three plays and force a 35-yard field goal that gave them a 20-7 lead with 12:15 left in the game.

After an MSU three and out, Alabama would look to break the Bulldogs' back. Kenyon Drake started things off with a 21-yard gain down to the MSU 32. On the next play, Calhoun stepped in front of a pass down the field and got his second interception of the game returning it 52 yards to the Bama 38. State couldn't get anything out of it and Bama took over on downs at their own 22.

On the very next play, Benardrick McKinney recovered an A.J. Jefferson forced fumble and the Bulldogs again had a chance at the 24. Again, the Bulldogs failed to get anything and turned the ball over on downs.

Neither team converted anything else the rest of the game and the Bulldogs would fall to the Tide after a strong defensive effort, 20-7.

MSU was outgained by Alabama, 383-197 but they forced four turnovers and turned it over just once themselves. MSU was held to just 53 yards after being in the top five in the SEC in rushing yards this season.

Individually, Russell performed well passing for 144 yards on 15-of-24 with an interception. State was led in rushing by Perkins who had 10 carries for 25 yards. Malcolm Johnson led the way receiving with career highs, six catches and 84 yards. Defensively, Kendrick Market led the way with 10 tackles and a forced fumble. The Bulldogs had seven tackles for loss in the game with a sack from Chris Jones.

MSU now has to win two games in the last two weeks to get to a Bowl game starting with Arkansas next week in Little Rock. It is not known yet if the Bulldogs will have the services of Prescott or Russell next week.


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