Marco Minor shines in ‘Snow Bowl’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Things looked bleak for Mississippi State. The wet snow and the icy wind provided an appropriate backdrop as the Bulldogs watched another win seem to slip away in the fourth quarter.

Down 35-28 with only 2:50 remaining in the Dec. 31 Independence Bowl, the Bulldogs watched the Texas A&M Aggies line up for what could have been the final, time-crunching drive of the game.

But that was before Mississippi State pressure caused Aggies quarterback Mark Farris to force a throw into coverage.

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&uot;They got a hand on him and the quarterback couldn’t see,&uot; said MSU cornerback Marco Minor, who made his first start as Bulldog in the game. &uot;He made the throw, and I said, ‘I’ve got to get this one.’ I got it.&uot;

Minor’s interception set up the Bulldogs first-and-goal on the Aggies’ 4-yard-line. A touchdown and a wild overtime period later, the Bulldogs became the 2000 Independence Bowl champions.

&uot;We were starting to get a little nervous,&uot; the Natchez native said, referring to MSU’s trademark fourth-quarter collapses this season. &uot;I thought the game was going to slip through our fingers. We stepped up, though, and came through.&uot;

Minor knows a thing or two about stepping up. The junior general business major was tapped to start the bowl after All-American Fred Smoot was deemed academically ineligible for the game.

&uot;I was just a little (nervous),&uot; Minor said. &uot;I think everyone gets the jitterbugs before their first start. You just have to get used to it.&uot;

His task wasn’t made any easier by the unusual blizzard that struck Shreveport, La., during the game. The several inches of accumulated snow made footing treacherous, and the biting cold made catching the ball a sometimes herculean chore.

&uot;That was the first time in my life I had to play in those conditions. It was a real headache,&uot; he said. &uot;But we had to overcome whatever was in our way.&uot;

Overall, Marco said, he was pleased with his MSU debut.

&uot;I made a few minor mistakes – and the coaches got on my case for those mistakes – but I had never played that position before,&uot; he said. &uot;A newcomer at anything is going to make a few mistakes. But I thought I did very well.&uot;

And hopefully, so did the MSU coaches.

&uot;(MSU head coach Jackie Sherrill) told me I did a good job,&uot; Minor said. &uot;He said, ‘I knew you’d rise to the occasion and you did.’

&uot;But they knew what I could do,&uot; Minor continued. &uot;They just want me to step and play more aggressive, play more to my ability.&uot;

Minor said he hopes to stay on as the starting corner for next season, but he knows it won’t be easy.

&uot;For any position, you have to work for it,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m going to get to work in the weight room, on the track, watching films, – everything – just as soon as possible to do what I can.

&uot;I just want a chance to play – and be a hero.&uot;