State can’t be counted out in West

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

Mississippi State attacked, and pretty good. But Auburn’s reprisal was a counterattack just a smidgin better, leaving the MSU Bulldogs in yet another “we did real good but they did better” situation. Auburn 16, State 14.

The Saturday night Southeastern Conference gem essentially ruled the TV airways right up to the end. Coach Jackie Sherrill’s seemingly capable Bulldogs fell short, though, and can’t be jumped on by their fans because they rocked and socked with the Tigers ’til the lights went out. Literally, because Auburn won with a field goal 18 seconds before the final whistle.

After all, Auburn is unbeaten in the SEC West Division, so it took the best of the moment to tame Mississippi State. Auburn had beaten Ole Miss 27-21 Sept. 6 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Ain’t fishin’, just talkin’.

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But Mississippi State and Auburn: The Bulldogs led long enough to break their fans’ hearts when an Auburn touchdown followed State’s fourth turnover at the 4:23 winddown mark. You know the story – the Tigers took the ball and marched right on down to field goal range, albeit quite a long one.

Damon Duval’s 47-yard three-pointer was big as life, for it gave Auburn life almost after “death.” State’s 4-minute chance was indeed slim. It was over.

Don’t count the Bulldogs as “dead in the sea,” though. They’re competitive and will continue to be.

The University of Southern Mississippi was guilty of turnover after turnover in losing 22-17 to the heads-up Memphis Tigers in Memphis. Four times USM stopped themselves and just couldn’t regroup.

Southern’s Tim Blackwell fumbled on the game’s first play for USM. Memphis snatched it up and kept the heat on the visitors the rest of the way. First thing Southern knew, Memphis had turned mistakes into 19 points, enough to win without the insurance field goal later.

Ole Miss managed to “pass” by Arkansas State 35-17, with Eli Manning passing for two TDs and hitting the 1,000-yard passing mark kinda early this season. Manning and Company did the job offensively, but the Indians turned running back Jonathan Adams loose for 173 yards. Ole Miss defensive coach Don Lindsey was unhappy.

HURRIED HASH: So many local high school football teams lost last Friday night I found it hard to find one that won. Hattiesburg over Natchez High; Mount Olive over Cathedral; Trinity falling for the first time this season to Tensas; Rayville sacking Vidalia High; and Wilkinson County Christian racing past ACCS. What a football night.

That’s just football, though, so what’re you gonna do.

Next week all the same ball clubs might win, who knows? Hattiesburg, taking NHS in particular, is formidable-plus, I’m pretty sure … And ACCS losing to Wilkinson County Christian down there – look for it much of the time … And Cathedral usually knows Mount Olive will be tough to tame. They are, that’s all … Head Vikings coach Dee Faircloth wasn’t happy with his Vidalia team’s play against Rayville, but soon everyone around here hopes career victory No. 200 happens for likeable coach Faircloth … High school football is exciting around here, no matter who wins. Tellin’ you now!

Glenvall Estes is a long-time sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.