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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

All three phases dominant as Bulldogs get solid SEC win on Homecoming

Noah Siano | The Reflector

MSU’s defense was dominant today as they gave up only 260 total yards to Kentucky.

A Homecoming blowout sounds a lot better than a Homecoming upset; and a dominant performance from Mississippi State University football (5-2, 2-2 SEC) ensured the 2017 Homecoming was celebrated, not forgotten.
The Bulldogs beat the University of Kentucky Wildcats (5-2, 2-2 SEC) by a score of 45-7 in an all-around complete game from all three parts of the MSU team.
MSU jumped out with an early lead, scoring 17-7 by halftime. At halftime, MSU crowned the 2017 Homecoming Court, which included Queen Victoria Vivians, King Anthony Daniels, Mr. MSU Nick Harris and Miss. MSU Anne Marie Currie. In the second half, MSU poured it on the Wildcats, scoring 28 unanswered points.
“I thought it was a really solid day in all three phases against a really good team,” head coach Dan Mullen said. “We were able to take them out of what makes them feel comfortable and put pressure on them.”

Dominant day from defense top to bottom

The secondary has been a weakness and the front seven a strength for the MSU defense all season long, but Saturday against UK, all three levels of the defense did their part and played well. On the back end, the secondary did one of the best jobs all season of defending the deep pass. Mark McLaurin led the back end of the defense with 11 tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Unlike the LSU game, this defense was actually stretched by Kentucky, who took multiple shots down the field; but every time, there was a defensive back to break up the pass.
“They disguised their coverages very well,” Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson, a senior, said. “A lot of time we ran into a play where we thought they were going to be doing something else.”
The linebackers were also great in coverage and plugging the gap in the run game. The highlight for the backers today was when Gerri Green, a 6’4” 245 pound junior from Greenville, picked off Johnson’s pass and took it 84-yards for a touchdown, ending any hopes of a Wildcat comeback.
“I think [Jeffrey Simmons] tipped it, then I caught it, then ran as fast as I could,” Green said. “It was my first-career touchdown. I’ll remember that for a long time.”
Up front, Montez Sweat was a constant disruption. He finished the day with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also did a lot of things that will not show on a stat sheet, constantly in the Kentucky back field.
Braxton Hoyett, a 6’3” 303 pound junior from Pedham, Alabama, stole the spotlight though, as he tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and caught it for his first career interception.
“I really wanted to be like [Gerri Green] and take it to the house, but somebody hit me as soon as I grabbed,” Hoyett said cracking a huge smile.

Quarterbacks combo for solid rushing attack

QB Nick Fitzgerald, a 6’5” 230 pound junior from Richmond Hill, Georgia, became the sixth quarterback in SEC history to rush for 2000 yards in their career. Three of those QBs now are MSU QBs, as Fitzgerald joins former MSU QBs Dak Prescott and John Bond.
Today he rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns. In the air, he completed 18 of 26 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown.
“We were not having trouble getting two, three, four yards a pop [run],” Fitzgerald said. “I knew if we could keep that up for the rest of the game we were going to be fine.”
Back up QB Keytaon Thompson received some reps throughout the game and made the most of them. He rushed the ball four times for 65 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a 40-yard touchdown run.

Looking ahead to Texas A&M

MSU will go on the road next week to take on Texas A&M University (5-2, 3-1 SEC). A&M will be coming off of a bye week after beating the University of Florida 19-17 last week.
The game will be in College Station, Texas, and kickoff is set for 6:15 p.m. MSU will once again be on prime-time Saturday night football, as ESPN will broadcast the game. 
Mullen after today’s game said he expects to get injured receiver Keith Mixon, injured offensive lineman Martinas Ranking and injured defensive lineman Cory Thomas back. Which will provide MSU with some much needed depth.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
All three phases dominant as Bulldogs get solid SEC win on Homecoming