Mississippi State overcomes sluggish start to bury Memphis in second half

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 3, 2001

The Associated Press

Monday, September 03, 2001

STARKVILLE (AP) – Mississippi State bumbled and fumbled around

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for 35 minutes, before Dicenzo Miller provided the spark that

set off a Bulldog barrage.

Miller had 167 total yards and two touchdowns and No. 18 MSU

scored on five straight second-half possessions to beat Memphis

30-10 Monday night in the season opener for both teams.

The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers for the eighth straight time,

but found themselves behind 10-0 in the third quarter after Glenn

Sumter returned a State fumble 74 yards to set up Travis Anglin’s

18-yard touchdown pass to Bunkie Perkins.

It was the Bulldogs third turnover of the night to go with

numerous costly penalties.

”We started badly,” Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill

said. ”We would take one step forward and then two back.”

Mississippi State, ranked to start the season for the first

time since 1993, finally responded two possessions later.

”We needed a big play to set us off,” Miller said. And the

senior tailback gave it to them.

Wayne Madkin hit Miller sneaking out of the backfield without

a Memphis defender in sight. Miller received a downfield escort

from Clarence Parker and dived headlong into the end zone for

a 49-yard score at 4:34 of the third.

Miller ran 12 times for 108 yards and caught two passes for


”(Miller) is certainly a big-time player,” Sherrill said.

”He turns games around.”

Madkin, who lost two fumbles in the first half, was 12-of-21

for 174 yards and two touchdowns. He said the Bulldogs came out

a little too juiced up.

”It was our first game and there were a lot of expectations,”

he said. ”Once we got calm, it was a totally different game.”

The Bulldogs’ defense forced a punt on Memphis’ next possession

after Miller’s touchdown and the special teams gave Mississippi

State its first lead of the season.

Curtis Stowers broke through the middle of the Tigers’ line

and blocked James Gaither’s punt. Nathan Jackson picked up the

ball on one hop and walked in from 6 yards out to put the Bulldogs

up 14-10 late in the third.

Another three-and-out by Memphis sent the home crowd into a

frenzy. The Bulldogs followed with a 53-yard touchdown drive,

capped by Miller’s 6-yard touchdown run with 10:18 left to make

it 21-10.

Madkin hit Justin Jenkins, who had a fumble and costly drop

earlier, for a 22-yard touchdown, and John Michael Marlin’s 24-yard

field goal completed the onslaught with 5:40 left in the game.

”Once we got that first touchdown they couldn’t stop us,”

Madkin said.

Memphis coach Tommy West was making his debut, as was the Tigers’

new spread offense.

Memphis managed just 162 yards and used three quarterbacks.

Anglin, an elusive quarterback in the mold of Clemson’s Woody

Dantzler, ran for 36 yards on 16 carries and was 6-of-7 for 56


The Tigers also played quarterbacks Neil Suber and Danny Wimprine,

but none could move the ball against the Bulldogs’ pressure.

”The situation just called for us playing all three,” West

said. ”They have a good defense. I am not ready to give up on

our new offense at all.”

Ryan White’s 33-yard field goal was the lone score of a brutal

first half.

It was MSU’s first regular-season Monday night game in 85 years.