HOUSTON, Texas (WCBI Sports/MSU Athletics) - In front of a raucous crowd at Reliant Stadium Saturday, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (0-1) fell to the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-0), 21-3 in a hard-fought battle in the 2013 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game.
The Bulldogs struck first in the 2013 season lidlifter, with sophomore Devon Bell nailing a 40-yard field goal on the first drive of the game.
State’s defense followed the field goal by stifling the Cowboy’s up-tempo offensive attack, forcing five punts through the paces of the first half. However, MSU could not capitalize on offense, driving into OSU territory twice but with those drives ending with an interception and a turnover on downs.
Momentum seemed to swing a bit near the end of the first half when OSU put their first points on the board as quarterback J.W. Walsh scored on a 3-yard OB keeper to give the Cowboys a 7-3 lead with a little more than two minutes remaining.
Following an MSU turnover on downs, Oklahoma State drove to the Bulldogs’ 32 and set up for a 49-yard field goal with just seconds left. The attempt was denied when senior defensive back Nickoe Whitley blocked the kick, allowing sophomore defensive back Taveze Calhoun to return the ball, coming just nine yards short of scoring. That ended the first half of play.
The third quarter proved to be the turning point in the game, as the OSU offense came out in full force. On the Cowboys’ first drive, senior running back Jeremy Smith punched in from one yard out to give Oklahoma State a 14-3 lead.
The Cowboys were stopped on downs on their next possession, giving the Bulldogs a chance to strike and potentially cut the lead to four. On the first play of that possession, senior quarterback Tyler Russell went down with a head injury. Sophomore Dak Prescott entered the game in Russell’s place, putting together several solid drives in reserve, including converting on two fourth downs on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, State could not capitalize, as Bell pulled a 32-yard field goal try left.
Prior to Bell’s missed field goal, OSU’s Smith scampered for a 20-yard score, making it 21-3 OSU. The Bulldogs drove into Cowboy territory one more time in the fourth, but were stopped short when a Prescott pass went through the hands of Robert Johnson and was intercepted.
In total, Mississippi State finished with 333 total yards, 222 through the air and 111 on the ground. Russell led the passing attack, going 10-for-16 for 133 yards, while senior LaDarius Perkins and sophomore Josh Robinson led the way on the ground with 50 and 48 yards running, respectively. Juniors Jameon Lewis and Malcolm Johnson led State in receiving with 55 yards each.
MSU was paced by Deontae Skinner on defense with 10 tackles. Bernardrick McKinney and Dee Arrington added seven stops each.
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday when they open 2013 home play at Davis Wade Stadium against Alcorn State. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CT, and will be televised on CSS and can be heard on the Mississippi State Radio Network.