In front of a crowd of 21,500 in Davis Wade Stadium, new men's basketball coach Ben Howland got his first victory at MSU yesterday. Howland was the honorary coach of the White team, which outlasted the Maroon squad 28-24.
Redshirt freshman QB Nick Fitzgerald threw for 255 yards and collected 3 touchdowns as he led the White team to victory. Senior Dak Prescott only played in the first half of the game for the Maroon team but he threw for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns and completed 20 of 29 passes with no interceptions. An impressive outing that did nothing to quell the excitement and expectations for his final season in Starkville.
"Everything was good overall, and I feel like everyone got better. I led the other guys, but I also made sure they led. I really feel like we are in the right position we need to be in at this point." Prescott said after the game.
Prescott was sacked 3 times during his short stint in the game, somewhat confirming fears that the offensive line is not as strong as last year's senior-laden unit. On the issue, Prescott said "I think they have come a long way. Communication-wise, they are just as good as our offensive line as last year and athletically and experience is going to come along in fall camp."
Redshirt freshman Dontavian Lee was the leading rusher on the day with 53 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Freshman Aeris Williams had 31 yards on the ground for Maroon and Junior WR De'Runnya Wilson was the game's leading receiver with 92 yards on 5 catches and a touchdown.
Prior to the game, the charged crowd was treated to a meeting with new mascot Bully XXI. His predecessor, Bully XX, "passed the harness" and began a new era for the esteemed mascot.
Bully XXI (Photo: HailState.com)
At halftime, Maroon led 24-21. Juco transfer WR Donald Gray provided the White squad with the only touchdown of the second half for either side and it was enough to carry White to victory. Maroon had two chances in the final minutes to take a come-from-behind victory but two turnovers in the redzone sealed the win for White.
Defensively, new faces stepped up and made a big difference. Sophomore J.T. Gray collected 9 tackles, Gerri Green, who is expected to be the heir apparent to Benardrick McKinney looked stout and had 6 tackles. Head coach Dan Mullen said of Green "He is his own player. He is a big guy. McKinney did not look like that when he was a freshman. He understands what type of player he can be if he works hard. He has one of the best work ethics I have been around."
Sophomore Kivon Coman had 8 tackles and former wide receiver Jamoral Graham fit right into his new position at defensive back, making 5 tackles on the day.
And now the rubber meets the road. MSU must take everything that they have learned from spring practices and begin their offseason preparation leading up to pre-season camp in August.
"We are probably the only sport in the world where the coaches cannot be with the players for the three months leading up to kickoff with a ball on the field." Coach Mullen stated. "You have to have leaders on the team that make sure they are going to improve throughout the summer months."
MSU's football season officially kicks off on September 5th against Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, MS.