Well now that we have gone through the most boring week of football season, the dreaded bye week, I feel the urge to write about an experience I had last season. Considering our next game is against the LSU Tigers, I feel it is appropriate to share an interesting story that happened last year on the day we beat LSU and how beating LSU added a twist to our night. Normally, I like to focus on what our QB needs to do or what he should have done for our Bulldogs to come away with a victory. I’m not going to write about all the things we need Nick Fitzgerald to do to pull off the upset in Baton Rouge, I think we all know what he has to do to give us a chance. So instead, here is my story...
When my day started on September 16th, 2017. I remember thinking... Is this the day it finally happens? I was skeptical, but hopeful. I was almost nervous in a sense because I had been disappointed so many times before. All I could think of as I made my way to Starkville was... can I finally witness Mississippi State beat LSU in Starkville? I was 11 the last time the Bulldogs defeated the Tigers in 1999 but I was not at the game when it happened. It felt like a lifetime ago since the Mississippi St. Bulldogs were able to defeat the LSU Tigers in Starkville with a lot of heart break and trash talk in-between those days. I have plenty of friends who are LSU fans that reminded me of their dominance over us in Starkville very frequently. Every other year it was the same ending, different year. Heck, even 1st and goal for the Bulldogs at the 1-yard line with minutes left ended badly for us... it honestly began to feel like a curse. So, all I could think of on our three hour drive was... Could this finally be the day?
Just like every game-day my Dad and I got ready to head to Starkville the same way we had done so many times. We live on a farm in Port Gibson so we have dogs, cats, horses, and even had a parrot. In a sense we basically have our own petting zoo. Getting ready didn’t just mean showering, getting dressed and making sure we had the tickets, cowbells and other essentials for us... it also meant feeding and watering all the animals. Sounds easy right? You’d be surprised to know that isn’t always the case. All of that going outside and coming back inside while trying to stop dogs from jumping up on your clean clothes while carrying feed and trying to keep some in and some out is very hectic at times. My moms favorite cat, which lives inside, is a bobtailed black and white cat named Pippa. She named HIM after Princess Pippa when HE was just a newborn kitten and by the time we learned she was a he the name had already stuck. He is full of energy and constantly sneaks outside without notice when a door is opened. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to climb onto the roof or into a tree to get that dang cat, but he is a loved member of the family and even though it drives me crazy sometimes, I’ve always cared for the well-being of my Mom’s favorite cat. But on this day, while we navigated inside and outside to get ready to leave for the game, my mind was on Tigers more than it was cats. So like every other time we have left on game-day we said goodbye to my mom and all yelled “Hail State!” as we walked out the door.
My brother, Blake, had moved to Vicksburg not too long before this game and had just gotten a new truck. So, naturally he wanted us to ride with him while he broke in his new truck. My dad and I hopped in my truck and drove 30 miles to my brothers house. The drive from his place to Starkville is about a 3 hour trip so we arrived at about 1pm and switched into my brothers vehicle for the remainder of the trip. Like most trips we listened to other games on the way up to Starkville and that day we also talked about the possibility of witnessing our Bulldogs defeat LSU... then we reminded each other of how many times we have had this same conversation on the way up only to leave Starkville with the agonizing sting of defeat on the long drive back home after LSU games. Needless to say we were all hopeful, but we had been through this too many times to get too excited. We knew the Bulldogs were capable and we believed they could, but the past was constantly creeping into our thoughts.
When we got to the stadium I remember telling my friend that I hoped this game would go like the one in Baton Rouge in 2014 when Dak Prescott ran all over the Tigers in front of a record crowd and ended our 15 year overall losing streak to the Tigers. We both agreed this was not likely but just hoped that the home-losing streak would just somehow, someway come to an end. When the game started the crowd was electric and the cowbells rang as loud as you’ve ever heard that night, and it stayed that way throughout the entire game. As we all now know, the Bulldogs shredded the Tigers 37-7 and their win streak in Starkville FINALLY came to an end. All of the trash talk we endured over the years, all of the blowouts and nail biting defeats could finally be put behind us and we could walk out of Davis Wade Stadium with smiles on our faces after facing LSU...Starkville partied like it was 1999 that night. You can call it corny if you want, and I’d imagine some of you and other fan bases would laugh at this statement, but it felt like I witnessed a miracle that night. That’s how crazy it drove me to have to wait that far into my life to witness Mississippi State beat LSU in Starkville and I could not care less about what others thought that night... the curse I felt was finally lifted.
After the game we hung out around a friends tailgate party and rejoiced about the victory we had just witnessed. We talked about how long this took and shared stories about how old or what we were doing the last time this had happened. After a while we said our goodbyes to our friends then my dad, brother, and I left campus to get something to eat. While we were sitting at the restaurant waiting on our meals I was posting on social media about how we finally witnessed this “miraculous” event (it’s ok to laugh I understand) when I got a call from my mom. She was happy we finally got to see the game end the way we had been wanting to for years and described to us what they were saying on TV during the game. Not long into the conversation she told me she was looking for Pippa... she hadn’t seen him in a while. I looked at my dad and brother then rolled my eyes and was thinking which would it be when I got home around 2-3am... roof or tree? She wasn’t too worried since this was definitely not an isolated event and always ended with me walking in the door out of breath with him clawing through my shirt and into my shoulder... you know, a near everyday experience in life, right? Right... So, I told her we would be leaving the restaurant soon and we would be home in a few hours to find him. Even with the future quest full of chasing, climbing, claws and sweat on a humid night around 2-3am could not affect my mood that night. I was too happy and relieved that we had finally witnessed our Bulldogs defeat the Tigers, so no type of cat was going to have an impact on my great night... at least that’s what I thought at that time.
So we made the long, finally terrific, drive home from Starkville and talked about all the great plays and game changing moments along the way. While my brother was driving I was holding a “Beat LSU” sticker in one hand and my cowbell in another. I smiled and realized I would actually be able to keep this one without ripping it to shreds or throwing it into the garbage. I thought about putting the sticker on the cowbell but I also thought maybe I should put it on my truck and write WE above Beat LSU... a way to take a jab at the LSU fans on the road throughout the season. I never get to do that, so I decided that’s what I would do. We pulled up to my brothers house right around 2am. My dad and I transferred everything to my truck and started saying goodbye to my brother, but first I wanted to place the sticker on the back of my truck. I went to the back to find a good spot on the tailgate, and as I kneeled down to put it on I heard a faint “meow”... my first thought was of course a stray cat that stayed around the neighborhood my brother lived in, but I ducked lower and looked up under my truck to see the cat... sitting right there on the pavement was Pippa. My jaw dropped and my heart started racing because as soon as I reached for him, like always, he ran. I chased after him and my brother thought I was crazy, he thought I was mistaking a stray for Pippa, he was actually laughing saying there is no way it’s him. I yelled, “It’s him! Look at the bobtail!” All three of us were now shocked. Thank God, Pippa ran back to me from the edge of the woods by my brothers house and right into my arms. I could not believe that Pippa had not only survived the 30 mile trip from our place to my brothers place sitting somewhere in the under carriage, he stayed there under or near the truck for 13 hours while we were gone.
We left my brothers house to make the rest of the trip home and for the first time it was me clinging on to Pippa instead of the other way around. I called my mom and the first thing I said was that she would not believe what happened and that everything was ok. I then told her how I was putting the sticker on my truck then I heard a “meow” and she yelled “Pippa!” while sobbing at the same time. She immediately understood what he had just survived and said she had a bad feeling when he didn’t beg to come inside after such a long time. We got back home a little while later and once again, I walked through that door with Pippa in my arms, but unlike the countless times before, this time was different. My mom was in tears while I was in a state of relief. I could not help but think about how much differently things would have gone had Miss. State not beaten LSU that night. I would not have gone from the driver seat to the back of the truck to put the sticker on and I most likely would have never known Pippa was sitting under my truck. So in a sense... beating LSU that night saved my moms cat. In the end, I did not put the sticker on my truck, I gave it to my mom. It has been on her refrigerator ever since. A constant reminder of that night. You don’t get to witness miracles everyday... but on that day I felt like I had witnessed two. Hail State... Beat LSU Again.