Inside My Head

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Egg Bowl 2007

Posted by Kevin on November 26, 2007

Egg Bowl

 

For 50 minutes in the Egg Bowl, Ole Miss absolutely dominated State. Ole Miss opened with an impressive 12-play scoring drive to start the game. They scored again in the 3rd quarter on another long 12-play drive. Ole Miss had 14 first downs in the first half; State had two.

As much as Ole Miss dominated the game and the statistics, State’s defense didn’t break. While the offense couldn’t muster anything resembling a drive, State’s defense did just enough to keep the game within reach. All State needed was a spark; something to give them hope.

Enter Michael Henig. Henig has been through hell as a quarterback at State. He’s seemingly broken every bone in his body, picked himself up after countless bone-jarring sacks, thrown more interceptions than should be humanly possible, and endured more than his share of boos. But…. when starter Wesley Carroll couldn’t get the offense moving against Ole Miss, Croom put in Henig to try and get something going. Henig was only 2-for-6 passing in his brief stint but something happened. The team responded. You could just feel it. They were just one play away from busting out of the funk.

The Play came at about the 10:10 mark in the 4th quarter. Faced with 4th-and-1 from their own 49-yard line, Ed Orgeron decided to go for it instead of punting the ball and putting State’s anemic offense deep in their own territory. Jasper O’Quinn and Keith Fitzhugh stuffed BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a 3-yard loss giving State the ball at the Ole Miss 46 yard line with 10:05 to go in the ballgame.

Ole Miss fans will forever claim that Orgeron should have punted instead of going for it. After all, to that point in the game State’s offense had only one drive over 20 yards and showed zero signs of being able to drive the length of the field which they would have likely had to do had Orgeron punted. Can’t argue with that point, but consider the magnitude of getting that one yard. Green-Ellis had been running all over State’s defense all game long. One yard on a critical fourth down would have been a dagger in the heart of the Bulldogs and likely lead to another long Ole Miss drive taking valuable time off the clock. Orgeron gambled and lost. He went for the kill. Even as a State fan I think he made the right call.

Of course, the consequences of not getting that critical yard were immediately obvious. State’s defense came through when it absolutely had to. The offense had to have fed off of the excitement and took advantage of their gift by driving 46 yards in 2:46 to finally…. finally put points on the board with a Wesley Carroll to Anthony Dixon swing pass to the corner of the endzone.

Even still down 7 points, you just knew State would find a way to win now. Ole Miss looked deflated. State drove to the Ole Miss 17 yard line before Carroll threw an interception that took the wind out of the State offense. The game was slipping away again. Ole Miss took over with just 3:51 left on the game clock. Surely they would get a first down or two and run the clock out…

The defense once again stiffened and forced an Ole Miss punt. Justin Sparks’ soccer-style punt couldn’t have bounced more perfectly to Derek Pegues who split a pair of defenders and cut back against his blockers and raced 75 yards for a Bulldog touchdown. Not even Croom could blame his players for the celebration that ensued. The game was tied. Scott Field was rocking.

As you might expect, State’s defense stepped up and forced Ole Miss to punt once again, giving State the ball on their own 35 yard line with just 0:43 on the game clock. Ole Miss was spent. You just knew State would find a way to score. This game was not going into overtime.

Adam Carlson, who has missed more than his share of costly field goals was given a chance to redeem himself. Last year, Carlson missed a 51 yard field goal attempt that would have sent the game into overtime. Hard to blame him for that one; 51 yard field goals aren’t easy for the guys playing on Sundays, much less a college kid. But Carlson took that one hard. Every practice this year, Croom made Carlson end his practice with a 51 yard field goal attempt. Some he made, some he didn’t. But he kept at it. With 18 seconds left, Croom called Carlson’s number for a 48-yard field goal to put State ahead. Carlson nailed it with room to spare.

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