Discover more from Blue & Gold Media at Mississippi College
Three Key Takeaways from the Choctaws’ win at #5 West Georgia
The Choctaws stormed back after trailing 21-3 in the first half for an upset win.
Mississippi College went on the road Saturday and defeated the 5th-ranked West Georgia Wolves 39-38. In a game where the Choctaws trailed 21-10 at the half and had a pair of significant injuries on offense, they rallied to take the lead with just four seconds to go and escape Carrollton with an upset win.
Next man up
Last week at McNeese State, the Choctaws’ starting fullback Cole Fagan suffered a minor injury and was limited against the Wolves, having just two carries for three yards. In his place, sophomore Ron Craten had four carries for 26 yards, including punching in the winning two-point conversion. Also helping carry the load, Sam Wilder had three carries for 31 yards and Marcus Williams continued to be a standout in the backfield as he picked up 105 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
During the third quarter, while trailing 21-17, quarterback DeAnte Smith-Moore suffered a leg injury following an awkward hit. Smith-Moore had been having an outstanding game to that point, with two passing touchdowns and 31 yards on the ground. John Henry White, a redshirt Freshman from Amite, La., came in to replace Smith-Moore and continued the comeback. White did most of his damage on the ground, picking up 107 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries while completing one pass for nine yards. This included leading the Choctaw offense on an 11-play, 66-yard drive that concluded with the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion.
Defensive backs shine
West Georgia quarterback Harrison Frost entered the game with 920 total yards on the season, as well as seven touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Choctaw passing defense has stood out all season, coming in at fourth in the Gulf South Conference. Their good play continued against Frost and the Wolves, as they totaled two interceptions, and broke up six passes. Redshirt senior Nick Grady was responsible for both interceptions, including his first of the season and equaling his season total in 2021. Calvin Sims, Jr. and Trajen Anderson-Watts each broke up one pass, while Grady and Kobe Graves each broke up two. Junior defensive lineman Ke’Shawn Brinkley, a Jackson State transfer, also had a standout day, forcing a fumble on the Choctaws’ lone tackle for loss of the game.
Execution continues to improve
Early in the season, the Choctaw offense and special teams units struggled with execution in a variety of ways. The special teams struggled to convert on field goal and extra point attempts, with misses and blocked kicks in each of their early games; and the offense struggled to hold onto the ball in each of their losses, with critical turnovers in each game.
The kicking game showed improvement last week against McNeese State, and the improvements continued against West Georgia across the board. The offense’s only turnover of the day came in the second quarter on a fumble by Smith-Moore. However, he threw two touchdowns with no interceptions and nobody else on the Choctaw offense committed a single turnover.
In the kicking game, freshman Ben Pledger hit his second field goal in as many weeks, this time a 31-yarder in the first quarter. Although he did miss one of his three extra point attempts, Pledger contributed to special teams in a variety of ways, also punting once for 43 yards and averaging 56.4 yards on kickoffs. Punter Houston Smith also had a good day, punting four times for an average of 41.3 yards, including a long of 55 yards and having one punt downed inside the 20-yard line.
Thanks for reading! Subscribe for free to receive new posts to Blue & Gold Media.