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Three Keys to Choctaw Loss Against Delta State
The Choctaws fell to the undefeated Statesmen despite leading in the third quarter.
Despite holding Delta State star quarterback Patrick Shegog to just 122 yards through the air, Choctaw football suffered a 52-38 loss in the Heritage Bell Classic. With their win, the Statesmen remain undefeated at 9-0 and gain a share of the Gulf South Conference title, while the Choctaws drop to 4-5 and 3-3 in the GSC.
Run Defense Struggles
While they held Delta State’s prolific passing game in check throughout the night, the Choctaw defense was repeatedly gashed by the Statesmen’s backs. In the game, the Statesmen averaged 6.7 yards per carry and rushed for a total of 433 yards.
They were led by Shegog, who made up for his passing struggles by going for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Kory Gainwell also scored twice, along with gaining 107 yards on 20 carries. Kelvin Smith was their third back to score twice, as he went for 85 yards on 13 carries.
All four of the DSU backs that carried the ball more than ten times went for over 80 yards, and none of them averaged less than 5.4 yards per carry.
The dominance of the DSU run game made up for Shegog’s lackluster performance through the air. He went 11-21 for just 122 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Though the Choctaw defense got gashed on the ground throughout the game, the offense responded throughout much of the night. They gained 346 yards on the ground and 64 through the air in a game that was tied 38-38 going into the 4th quarter.
John Henry White had another good game, rushing for 113 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown, and went 6-14 through the air for 64 yards. Though he missed on a few deep passes, he ran the ball well and helped the offense move the ball easily through the first three quarters. He also led the offense through a clean game with no turnovers on the night.
Marcus WIlliams had another good day running the ball, picking up 94 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, as well as having a 92-yard kickoff return. Cole Fagan also stood out on the ground, carrying the ball eight times for 93 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yard touchdown.
Four different Choctaws recorded receptions with Jacob Stephens leading the way with three catches for 43 yards.
Early in the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 38, the Choctaws had a fourth and three on their own 32-yard line. On a fake punt, Houston Smith’s pass was dropped by Nate Thurman. Six plays later Kelvin Smith punched in a five-yard touchdown to give DSU a 45-38 lead, and they never looked back.
After the Choctaws could not convert a 4th down in Statesman territory, the DSU run game struck gold again, making the score 52-38.
With two games remaining, one being in conference, a winning record both overall and in conference is still in play. Next week, the Choctaws go on the road to face West Alabama, who they beat to close the 2021 season. After that, they will have a non-conference matchup against West Florida, whom they lost to earlier this season 45-17.
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