Shrader comes off bench to preserve Bulldogs' win over Southern MissBy BRENT MAZE,
Joe Moorhead isn’t a big fan of Garrett Shrader’s beard, especially after the true freshman lost his helmet a couple of times against Southern Miss on Saturday.
“I got on the phone with (quarterbacks) coach (Andrew) Briener, and he said if that thing flies off one more time, he’s going to shave it off,” Shrader said. “I tightened my helmet all the way.”
Shrader tightened his helmet, came in relief of injured starter Tommy Stevens and helped preserve a 38-15 win over Southern Miss before a crowd of 55,143 on a hot Saturday afternoon at Davis Wade Stadium.
“I told him to just not screw it up,” said Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead. “Since I’ve known him, he’s a guy that the situation is never too big for him. You know, we told him Tommy’s out and you’re in. He didn’t have a deer-in-the-headlights look.”
Shrader finished 7-for-11 for 71 yards passing and kept the Bulldogs turnover-free on offense.
Started Tommy Stevens was on pace for a career day, starting 9-for-9 for 105 yards and two touchdowns before he went out of the game with an “upper body” injury, according to Moorhead, following his first incompletion. He was sacked on back-to-back plays by Southern Miss’s Ty Williams immediately prior to that first errant throw.
Moorhead didn’t say how severe the injury was, but he felt bad for the transfer quarterback who had started the game so well and didn’t get to finish it.
“He put so much effort and preparation, and for him to play the way he’s been in the first two games, I’d love to see him finish that game because he was going to have a real, real big day,” Moorhead said. “But he got banged up and came out and started supporting his teammates. We hope to get him back soon. But what we saw the first two games, that’s what we were expecting when we brought him in here.”
Stevens got things started quickly after finding Osirus Mitchell for a 28-yard touchdown on State’s first drive. On the first play of the second quarter, Stevens connected with Stephen Guidry for an 11-yard drive to finish off the second Bulldog drive.
Then after Stevens went down, Shrader came in and led another touchdown drive before the half. Senior Nick Gibson scored on a 13-yard touchdown run.
In the second half, Kylin Hill came back in the game after his own lower body injury and capped off a nine-play, 58-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs a 28-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
Southern Miss, which had several good drives end in the red zone, finally broke through on a spectacular 28-yard catch by Jaylond Adams from quarterback Jack Abraham.
After a 30-yard Jace Christmann field goal, Southern Miss pulled to within two scores on a 65-yard strike from Abraham to Jordan Mitchell. Trevor Terry caught the two-point conversion pass to make it 31-15 with 6:31 to play.
True freshman Martin Emerson slammed the door on the Golden Eagles with an interception leading to a 22-yard touchdown run by Lee Witherspoon, another true freshman.
C.J. Morgan’s pick ended the last Southern Miss threat.