Halftime: Dawgs ahead, but mistakes loom large

If you only watched the first two drives of the game, or even just looked at the stats, you’d think Mississippi State would be up big on Auburn.

Alas, the Bulldogs only lead the Tigers by four, taking a 7-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.

From the stat sheet: mSU quarterback Tyler Russell is an impressive 12-of-17 passing for 116 yards and one touchdown. Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier is a dismal 1-of-7 for negative two yards passing.

MSU leads in total offense 157 yards to 65, as the Bulldogs have 116 yards in the air and 41 on the ground.

LaDarius Perkins leads those backs with seven carries for 31 yards, while freshman Derrick Milton has 3-for-13.

Perkins is also the leading receiver, catching three balls for 17 yards. Chad Bumphis, Marcus Green and Chris Smith each have two receptions apiece.

Speaking of twos, senior All-American cornerback Johnthan Banks has two interceptions, one of which he nearly returned for a touchdown, but just barely stepped out of bounds early in the return.

Cam Lawrence leads the defense with five tackles, while Corey Broomfield and Deontae Skinner each have four tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Despite all of that, MSU is only up 7-3.

Marcus Green, who was wide open and did a superb job taking a 30-yard pass to the house for the only touchdown, had what could’ve been a costly drop in the red zone as MSU was driving and threatening to score on the opening drive.

After the ball bounced off his hands, the drive stalled, MSU got to fourth down and freshman kicker Devon Bell missed the field goal.

A superb opening drive went for naught.

Later, after the Dawg defense stuffed Auburn yet again, Chris Smith fumbled the ball on a pass from Tyler Russell, giving Auburn the ball in MSU territory after their offense had just failed to move down the field.

Later in that drive, with Auburn threatening to score, the Tigers failed to convert a second-and-long, but then were awarded a first down deep in the red zone after a personal foul on defensive tackle Curtis Virges.

Lucky for Dan Mullen, his defense held and escaped the string of miscues with Auburn only getting three points on a short field goal.

Fast-forward a bit to the second quarter, and Johnthan Banks got the first of his two interceptions. Tyler Russell and the offense didn’t get the ball far, but were again in field goal range.

And again, that ball never made it through the uprights, as Bell’s kick was blocked at the line.

MSU should probably be up by more than four points, though I’m sure they won’t complain too much about a lead at the half over SEC West foe Auburn.

The Tigers get the ball to start the second half.

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