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MSU nips Troy State, 11-8

By By Danny P. Smith/special to The Star
October 13, 2002
STARKVILLE It was a narrow escape.
With the Troy State Trojans threatening to spoil another homecoming for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs overcame an inconsistent offensive performance with a solid defensive effort.
When MSU linebacker T.J. Mawhinney picked off the sixth pass of the day with 2:18 left on the clock, it preserved the 11-8 victory for the Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Even with four lost fumbles of its own, MSU head coach Jackie Sherrill was glad to see that his team did not give up.
The Bulldogs improved their record to 2-4 and were happy to get the win despite being sloppy at times on offense.
Reid was one of the players who lost a fumble, but produced the first 100-yard plus game for a Bulldog running back this year. He rushed for 111 yards on 18 carries.
Reid was also involved in the only touchdown of the game for Mississippi State, but it was not on the ground.
With 11:17 remaining in the third quarter, quarterback Kevin Fant tossed a 15-yard pass over the middle to Reid for the score.
After Joe Judge completed the two-point conversion pass to Donald Lee on a fake, the Bulldogs established the 11-0 lead.
The rest was left up to the defense.
Even though the unit gave up a 6-yard scoring run by Troy State's LeBarron Black with 6:23 left in the game and the two-point conversion, the MSU defense held down the stretch with Mawhinney's interception stamping out the last threat by the Trojans.
Williams had three of the six interceptions gathered in by the Bulldogs. Mawhinney, Josh Morgan and Korey Banks had one each.
Mississippi State only held a 3-0 lead at halftime, thanks to a 31-yard field goal by Brent Smith, and missed opportunities to get more. That kept the pesky Trojans in the game.
After Troy State won last year's decision 21-9 at Davis Wade Stadium, the Bulldogs were just happy to make enough plays to come out on top.
Fant completed 22 of 32 pass attempts for 210 yards before leaving the game late with an injury after running a quarterback draw.
Fant was in noticeable pain as he left the field, but there was no speculation about his availability for next week.
Fullback Justin Griffith had 86 all-purpose yards for the Bulldogs with 34 rushing and 52 receiving. Defensively, linebacker Mario Haggan provided his usually solid effort with 10 tackles.
Mississippi State will get back on the road Saturday when it takes on Memphis at Liberty Bowl Stadium.