The Times from Shreveport, Louisiana on January 1, 2001 · Page 17
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The Times from Shreveport, Louisiana · Page 17

Shreveport, Louisiana
Issue Date:
Monday, January 1, 2001
Page 17
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Cancel - A H Bulldogs win Snow Bowl in wild overtime By Scott Ferrell The pines Independence Bowl officials have talked for months about having a memorable 25th anniversary. They delivered Sunday night , There was steady snow fall that gave Independence Stadium a Lambeau Field look. Never in the previous 24 years of the game had snow fallen, much less the inches that were pil-. ing up along the sidelines. But the snow gave way to the game as the most memorable moment in this 25th Independence Bowl. Mississippi State erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Then the Bulldogs used a defensive extra-point and a touchdown to defeat Texas A&M, 43-41. "Considering everything, it was a big, big win," State coach Jackie Sherrill said. It was a big win for the Bulldogs (8-4) on several fronts. For Sherrill, the win came against his former employer Texas A&M and a former assistant coach R.C. Slocum. For the Bulldogs, the win was the first in overtime in school history. State needed a fast finish and some overtime heroics to win this one. The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns in the final 8:17, to force overtime. . And then, when A&M appeared to have momentum on Ja'Mar Toombs' 25-yard touchdown run on the first play of overtime, the Bulldogs came up with the biggest play of the game. State's Willie Blade, the game's defensive MVP, broke through A&M's line and blocked Terence Kitchens' extra-point attempt. Eugene Clinton picked up the loose football and lateraled to Julius Griffith who ran the length of the field for a two-point defensive extra point "I thought we had to make a big play," Blade said. "When he scored, I said we've got to do it (block the kick) again. I had some help from my teammates tonight." The block was crucial because the two points the Bulldogs picked up cut the Aggies lead to 41-37. Now a touchdown would win the game in overtime. - And Wayne Madkin gave the 'Dogs that touchdown on a scrambling run that covered 6 yards. "I knew when all these guys jumped up on me I had gotten into the end zone," Madkin said. Madkin's score capped a wild evening in the snow. The Aggies built a 35-21 lead with 9:20 remaining in the game on the second of Ja'Mar Toombs' three touchdowns. Toombs, the game's offensive MVP, rushed 35 times for 193 yards. D See OVERTIME Page 3 Inside the numbers 4 Mishandled quarterback-center exchanges by Mississippi State in the first quarter. 94 Dontae Walker's and Ja'Mar Toombs' individual rushing totals in the first half. 10 Temperature including the wind-chill factor at the beginning of the game, according to the National Weather Service. 28 Temperature at game time. ' 1 Number of Fighting Texas Aggie Band tubas that came apart during the group's halftime performance. 100-plUS Number of wool hats sold by one Independence Bowl vendor over the past two days. 36,974 Attendance. 3 Number of bowl games that have gone to overtime, including the 2000 Independence bowl. 4 MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS 43 W&iWtt pit? 4 ' V 1 Mississippi State's Willie ping Texas A&M running eroes abound o: ne of the great things about post-( season sports is the stage be comes a little larger. And the hero ics of those on stage be- comes a little larger. And such was the case on a snowy Sunday night in Shreveport. On the surface, Mississippi State won the 25th Independence Bowl, 43-41, in overtime. But look deeper and you'll find the heroes. You'll see State coach Jackie Sherrill. He stood Scott Ferrell Opinion across the sidelines from a team he once coached, at a school he once loved. And though he publicly claims no special significance in defeating his old team and his former assistant coach, R.C. Slocum, he wouldn't be human if there wasn't special feeling for Sunday's win. Then you see Wayne Madkin at the bottom of a pile of happy Bulldogs player in overtime. Madkin was maligned by State fans as a freshman and sophomore. Now he is tied with Georgia's Quincy Carter as the winningest quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. Madkin hardly played against arch-rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl last month. His team lost badly. Since coming to Shreveport, Madkin has looked like the living dead. He has battled a sinus infection with everything from medication to Ensure. Yet, when game time rolled around, there was CEhe dime .. r - -rJ ....... y ... ' , 1 .!! ' . 'if . ..' r,. a;, .,. r$tki il" .:- : , &- J ; .mm sja.-. ,41 . it-m 4 r. t Blade celebrates after stop- was named back Ja'Mar Toombs. Blade Player after Madkin to take every snap. He threw a 4-yard screen pass for a touchdown to running back Dicenzo Miller in the first half. Then, with the game in the balance in the fourth quarter, he flipped a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Donald Lee to force overtime. And in the overtime, there was Madkin scrambling through the Aggies defense for a touchdown. "All I know is that I broke containment," Madkin said. "And I was trying to stretch out as far as I could." His stats were nothing special 9 of 19 for 71 yards and two touchdowns. But his performance was. Just win, baby. Then there was cornerback Marco Minor. He was pressed into the starting lineup this week only after All-America cornerback Fred Smoot was declared academically ineligible. He was burned for a 42-yard touchdown before the first half ended when he slipped in front of Texas A&M wide receiver Robert Ferguson. But late in the fourth quarter, Minor made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game when he intercepted Texas A&M quarterback Mark Farris and returned the football to the Aggies' 4-yard line to set up the game-tying score. "I saw our defensive line going in pretty hard," Minor said. "And my guy stopped. So I just stepped in front of him as soon as possible to make a play and that's what I did." And then there was Willie Blade. He played like a man possessed on the de- TEXAS A&M AGGIES 41 i : & I22hl Matthew MinardThe Times the game's Most Outstanding Defensive he blocked A&M's extra point in overtime. in 2 000 1-Bowl .- '-turn. - v : . M :J Robert B. Burge The Times Mississippi State quarterback Wayne touchdown in overtime as the Bulldogs ral-Madkin stretches to score the winning lied to beat Texas A&M 43-41. fensive line. He made 16 tackles and lived in the Aggies' snow-covered back-field. He blocked one extra-point. And in overtime, he blocked another that led to a defensive extra-point and eventually the win. They were blocking down on me," Blade said. "But 1 kept fighting and fighting to get through and finish the play." Sunday's Independence Bowl will be remembered around here for years. Some local fans will remember the snow that made this I-Bowl look more like an NFC Central --M0NDAY. JANUARY 1. 2001 1 INSIDE Bulldog whiteout: Mississippi State shows up in white uniforms and helmets. A&M keeps home colors. On the Ground: Aggies surprise with running. Spirit squads: A&M fans bundled up for the cold. Party goes on: Tailgate continues 15-year tradition. Key to the game: Snow leads to miscuesand momentum changes. Stuck in the snow: Bulldogs offense gets bogged down early. MVPs: Texas A&M's Ja'Mar Toombs, Mississippi State's Willie Blade earn honors. Go to ajid click on photo gallery for a look at the I-Bovd in pictures starting Tuesday. Also, click on sports to find our complete 1-Bowl coverage from start to finish. ' v" j( - " m ' m 4 SLr- t f battle in December. Some will remember the fact that the I-Bowl had its first overtime game in its 25-year history. But everyone in attendance should remember the heroic feats of several players who made Sunday's I-Bowl a memorable one. Scott Ferrell is The Times' assistant sports editor. He can be reached at 459-3299 or by fax at 459-3301. E-mail address: sports 2l i I 4

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