Troy struggles, falls on the road to Mississippi State

Michael Shipma

Sports Editor

The Troy football team was defeated 45-17 at Mississippi State on Saturday, Oct. 10, in front of a crowd of 60,866.

The Trojans (1-4, 0-1 Sun Belt) struggled to get any offense going in the first half, making two quarterback changes after a slow start from sophomore quarterback Brandon Silvers. The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-2 SEC) controlled both sides of the ball from start to finish, despite limited playing time from standout senior quarterback Dak Prescott.

“We came out and really got overwhelmed,” said first-year head coach Neal Brown. “Their defensive line has a lot of guys who are going to be playing for money. We made some miscues, and we got overwhelmed by their team’s speed.”

The home team scored 38 unanswered points before halftime, as Troy’s defense struggled to find an answer to the balanced offense of Mississippi State. The Bulldogs scored on their second play from scrimmage when Prescott found junior wide receiver Fred Ross for a 59-yard touchdown reception.

On the second play of the next drive for the Trojans, Silvers was sacked and fumbled the ball. Junior defensive lineman Nelson Adams recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

With 4:36 left in the first quarter, Troy made its first change at quarterback, substituting Silvers with senior quarterback Dallas Tidwell. Silvers would not return to the game because of injury, and finished five-of-seven passing for 40 yards.

Mississippi State made a quarterback change of its own, replacing an ailing Prescott with freshman quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Prescott finished three-of-six passing for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Fitzgerald put the home team up 38-0 with 47 seconds left in the first half with a one-yard touchdown run, capping off a four-play, 55-yard scoring drive.

Troy made some adjustments at halftime, however, and was able to get on the scoreboard in the third quarter. Senior quarterback Dontreal Pruitt, who replaced Tidwell in the second quarter, broke the scoring drought with a five-yard touchdown run that ended a 15-play, 77-yard drive. The drive took 9:08 off the clock.

On the Trojans’ next possession, senior running back Brandon Burks put up another touchdown against the Bulldogs, scoring on a 74-yard gallop and making the score 38-14 in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Fitzgerald snuffed out any hopes for a comeback from the visitors, however, by throwing a 49-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Donald Gray and extending the lead to 45-14 in the fourth quarter. A late 21-yard field goal from senior kicker Jed Solomon added to the Trojans’ tally, but the visitors suffered their fourth loss of the season.

“I thought (our guys) competed hard and played with heart and desire,” Brown said. “They played with pride, and I think this can be a defining moment. We held them to under 100 yards rushing until that last run, and they’re a rushing team.”

The Trojans will return to Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 17, when they take on Idaho in Troy’s homecoming game. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

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