CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: BEASON

HED:Statesmen clobber Valley

By Mark Beason

Daily Journal

ITTA BENA - In a flatland battle, Delta State held off a late Mississippi Valley charge to win the Delta Showdown.

The Statesmen knocked off the Delta Devils 35-23 Saturday at Rice-Totten Stadium.

Delta State led 28-7 in the fourth, when Mississippi Valley rallied to pull within three, 28-25. Statesmen running back Rico McDonald put the game away, running for a 27-yard touchdown with 2:45 left in the fourth.

McDonald, a former Ripley standout, had a big day, rushing for 204 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns.

"We played pretty good," McDonald said. "I have to give credit to my offensive line, they opened up the holes for me."

Delta State came out in the third quarter looking much like it did in the second. The Statesmen scored three touchdowns in the second quarter and added another early in the third.

Holding a 21-7 advantage, DeForest Hart scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 12:43 left in the third. Hart's touchdown run was set up by 63-yard run by McDonald.

Trailing 28-7, the Delta Devils needed a spark and Terrell Adams gave Mississippi Valley the jolt it needed.

Adams fielded a Statesmen punt, found a gap in the Delta State coverage and raced 61 yards for the touchdown. The touchdown return by Adams cut the Statesmen lead to 28-14 with 2:17 left in the third.

"We struggled with our punt coverage," Delta State coach Steve Campbell said. "We did a poor job tackling, it's something we're going to have to work on."

After a stagnate first quarter, both offensive units showed signs of life in the second. Once again, it was the Delta Devils special teams coming of with a key play to spark Mississippi Valley. Terrell Adams had a 45-yard punt return, giving the Delta Devils the ball on the Delta State 35-yard line.

Mississippi Valley capitalized on the field position provided by the special teams, scoring on the ensuing play. Delta Devil quarterback Rob Harding, hit Donte Boatman for the 35-yard touchdown pass.

Christoph Kipperer hit the extra point to put Mississippi Valley up 7-0.

"After we went up 28-7 I don't know if we got relaxed or what," Campbell said. "Valley started to pour it on and we are fortunate to get out of here with a win."

Delta State's offense, which tallied just 55 yards in the first quarter, struck twice in the second. Following Mississippi Valley's touchdown, Statesman quarterback Josh Bright hit Jody Jennings on a 40-yard pass. The pass play put Delta State just inside the Mississippi Valley 20-yard line.

Two plays later, Bright ran in from 1-yard out, for the touchdown. Billy Dorgan added the extra point, tying the game 7-7 with 14:27 left in the first half.

"We had some busted assignments in the first quarter but we played a lot better in the second," DSU offensive lineman and Saltillo native Shane Rodgers said. "After we got the lead, we got relaxed a little bit.

"But we stepped and made the big play when we had to."

Delta State's special teams came up with a big play of its own. Following Bright's touchdown, the Statesmen pulled an on-side kick, with Archie McDonald recovering for Delta State.

The offense responded in a big way, converting on fourth down.

On fourth down and five from the Delta Devil 36-yard line, Bright connected with Jason Franklin on the 36-yard touchdown pass. Dorgan's extra point put Delta State up 14-7 with 10:49 left in the second.

Midway through the second, Mississippi Valley drove inside the Delta State 20-yard line. The drive stalled and Kipperer's 30-yard field goal attempt missed wide left.

Leading 14-7, the Statesmen tacked on another score late in the half. With 4:10 left, Rico McDonald ran in from two yards out for the Statesmen third touchdown of the quarter. Dorgan hit the extra point, putting Delta State up 21-7 with 4:10 remaining in the first half.

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