Mississippi State left to rue 3 dropped passes, missed field goal before halftime of Egg Bowl

Andy Kostka
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State was in prime position to take a lead into halftime against No. 8 Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving.

But then the Bulldogs dropped the ball. Three times, in fact.

In a span of three passes, Mississippi State dropped three straight passes, setting up a 33-yard field goal attempt for Nolan McCord — which he missed, compounding the agony. The Bulldogs left 14 points on the field in the first half, including an overthrow of Makai Polk from quarterback Will Rogers in the first quarter.

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But the latest drive will sting most. Coach Mike Leach’s squad had driven inside the 10-yard line when running back Jo’quavious Marks dropped the first pass from Rogers near the goal line. There was a holding call on the next play to back Mississippi State up, but Marks wound up dropping a lofted pass from Rogers that would’ve led to a walk-in score.

And then Rogers found wide receiver Lideatrick Griffin — who had made three critical catches on that drive totaling 63 yards — for a jump ball in the end zone. Griffin had position, the ball hit his hands, and then it hit the turf.

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers (2) passes against Mississippi during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, in Starkville, Miss.

Leach trotted out McCord and the field goal unit for the 33-yard field goal attempt, but he missed his second of the night. McCord skewed a 40-yarder wide earlier.

The Bulldogs had driven into field goal range on all four first-half drives but came away with just six points, leading to a 10-6 halftime deficit to Ole Miss.