Rapid Reaction: Mississippi State capitalizes on Vanderbilt turnovers, gets much-needed win
Both teams desperately needed a win on Saturday. Both coaches may have needed it more.
In the end, the best unit in this matchup, Zach Arnett’s Bulldog defense, provided the big plays necessary to lead Mississippi State to a 24-17 win over Vanderbilt Saturday night in Starkville.
As bad as things have been in recent weeks for Mike Leach at Mississippi State, the Pirate may have lost any support he had remaining in Starkville had his team failed to deliver a win against a short-handed Vanderbilt team ravaged by a mix of opt-outs, injuries and players out due to COVID testing or quarantine.
The key to this game was simple, Vanderbilt turned the ball over five times while Mississippi State didn’t have a single turnover. While the Bulldogs only scored 14 points on the turnovers, they were key in preventing the Commodores from putting points on the board.
While Vanderbilt true freshman QB Ken Seals has shown a ton of potential early during his college career, his three interceptions and lost fumble really killed his team’s chances in this one.
One of Seals’ interceptions came in the end zone just before the end of the first half and his lost fumble came with just minutes remaining in the game with Vandy down three points. He finished the game completing 31 of 46 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown.
Mississippi State also started a true freshman under center in this game as Will Rogers made his first career start on Saturday. He responded by completing 35 of 46 attempts for 226 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs had eight different receivers catch a pass in this game with Malik Heath leading the way with nine catches for 79 yards. Osirus Mitchell had four catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs finished the game with -22 rushing yards.
The pregame highlight from this one came when Mississippi State took the field with the new state flag for the first time ever.
Check it out below as Starkville native Kobe Jones proudly displayed the new flag for the state of Mississippi on Saturday.
HAIL STATE pic.twitter.com/FUb7zjvhjM
— Mississippi State Athletics (@HailState) November 7, 2020
Joquavious Marks caught seven passes for 22 yards in this game. Why is that noteworthy? The freshman running back set a single-season school record with his 38th reception of the season, that’s a record for a true freshman or a running back in MSU program history.
Vanderbilt running back Keyon Brooks had a solid performance in this game, rushing 20 times for 115 yards and a touchdown.
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) November 7, 2020
Mississippi State improves to 2-4 after getting this win and is scheduled to host Auburn next weekend. Vanderbilt falls to 0-5 is scheduled to play at Kentucky next weekend.