Nov 7, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jaden Walley (31) runs with the ball while defended by Vanderbilt Commodores safety Maxwell Worship (R) during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

News Articles

Five takeaways help Mississippi State hold off Vandy

Mississippi State forced five Vanderbilt turnovers Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 24-17 Southeastern Conference victory at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

State entered the game with an NCAA-worst minus-12 in turnovers, but was plus-5 on Saturday, intercepting Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals three times. Linebacker Tyrus Wheat forced a pair of fumbles and added six tackles for MSU (2-4).

Vanderbilt outgained MSU, 478-204, and the Commodores held State to a minus-22 net yards rushing, but the turnovers proved to be decisive.

MSU quarterback Will Rogers made his first career start and was 35 of 46 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school’s single-game freshman mark for completions.

For Vanderbilt (0-5), running back Keyon Henry-Brooks had 212 yards from scrimmage — 115 on 20 rushes and 97 on 11 receptions.

Trailing by a field goal, Vanderbilt got to the MSU 28 with under nine minutes to play, but defensive linemen Marquiss Spencer picked off a Seals pass.

After MSU’s ensuing drive ended with a punt for the seventh successive time, the Bulldogs defense stepped up: Wheat sacked Seals, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Commodore 14.

Running back Jo’quavious Marks cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:43 to play that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

MSU had opened the scoring by capitalizing on a turnover when safety Collin Duncan picked Vandy’s Seals on the game’s first possession, returning it 28 yards to the Commodore 27. Rogers hit wide receiver Osirus Mitchell for a 6-yard score, with kicker Brandon Ruiz’s point-after giving State a 7-0 advantage.

Running back Dillon Johnson scored on a 4-yard run–the Bulldogs’ first rushing attempt of the day–with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

After the Commodores turned it over on downs at their 45, State’s Ruiz hit a 25-yard field goal with 9:24 left in the second quarter.

Vandy had a first-and-goal at the MSU 2, but State snuffed out two runs and then linebacker Errol Thompson picked off a Seals pass in the end zone.

Still, Seals brought Vanderbilt back with 2-yard strike to wide receiver Chris Pierce for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the third quarter. And early in the fourth quarter, Brooks sprinted through a gaping hole on the left side and went 27 yards untouched, pulling the Commodores to within 17-14.

But the two ensuing turnovers proved fatal, preventing the Commodores from winning in Starkville for the first time since 1971.

A pair of safeties — MSU’s Shawn Preston (first half) and Vandy’s Dashaun Jerkins (second half) were ejected for targeting.

The Tennessean reported Saturday that, owing to injuries and COVID-19 issues, Vanderbilt sent just 58 scholarship players to Starkville, narrowing reaching the SEC minimum of 53.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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