News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Bulldogs make statement with their win over AU

AUBURN (AP) — Now, the Mississippi State Bulldogs have some evidence to back up their confident talk.

The Bulldogs feel they showed with Saturday’s 19-14 win at Auburn that their downtrodden program is making progress under coach Sylvester Croom, while also sending the Tigers backsliding further with their second straight upset loss.

“This is definitely a big win for our program,” Mississippi State running back Christian Ducre said. “It is tough telling people that we are getting better because we still have to go out there every day and prove it, but this is the kind of win that shows people that we aren’t just talking, but playing.”

With both teams turning to backup quarterbacks for different reasons, the Bulldogs (2-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) got their second huge road win of the past two seasons — both in this state. The first came late last season at Alabama.

This time they did it even though quarterback Michael Henig broke his throwing hand early when the Bulldogs were up 13-0. They held on for their second straight win.

The Tigers (1-2, 0-1) made a quarterback change after Brandon Cox was intercepted on his first two passes, and they committed five turnovers for the second straight game. Freshman Kodi Burns replaced Cox and wound up running for 87 yards and a touchdown while passing for 65 with an interception.

Auburn was ranked 17th nationally before losing to South Florida.

The Bulldogs’ backup quarterbacks, Wesley Carroll and Josh Riddell, mostly handed off to Anthony Dixon (103 yards) and Ducre (63 yards) in Henig’s absence. Ducre scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yarder with 5:27 left, and the defense then kept Auburn from the end zone.

“We really came out and made a statement today,” Dixon said after the game. “We showed we improved from the last two games. We didn’t come in hoping that we could win. We came in expecting that we were going to win. Nobody would have believed on Friday that we would come in here and win but today they believe.

“We were able to jump on them early, gain some confidence and force their offense to start pressing. We didn’t feel any pressure.”

Mississippi State was outgained 323-213 in total yards and had only five completions by the three quarterbacks.

But the defense was able to stop Auburn’s final drive when Cox’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete.

Auburn had reached the MSU 9 and had first-and-goal before the drive stalled.

“We just sucked up our guts and finished,” Bulldogs defensive end Titus Brown said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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