MONGRUE: Another wild chapter in Egg Bowl lore

Players, coaches react to Egg Bowl outcome

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WLBT) - In each of its five previous wins in the 2019 season, the Mississippi State football team never once relinquished a second half lead. That statistic held true for the Bulldogs sixth win on Thanksgiving night, however it came in the weirdest imaginable way.

As Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore broke the plane of the end zone with four seconds left, a 21-21 tie and ensuing overtime seemed all but a formality. That is until Moore crawled to the backend of the end zone and lifted his right leg to simulate a... uh... urinating dog.

And you thought your crazy uncle arguing politics was a wild Thanksgiving.

We all know what happened after that: Moore got tagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, Ole Miss missed the elongated extra point and the Golden Egg stayed in Starkville.

And so we put a period on yet another weird chapter in this beautifully defective rivalry we affectionately call the Egg Bowl.

I guess we should’ve all expected something insane to happen, because it’s not like either of these two teams have had paint-by-numbers type seasons. Moore flushing a chance at victory away aside, full credit is due to a Mississippi State squad who, once upon a time was in the midst of a four-game losing streak, pulled itself off the mat to close the season out with three wins in the final four games to join a club of just five SEC teams that will play in a bowl in every year this decade (Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M are the other four).

Joe Moorhead is proud to have had a hand in that the last couple of years.

“This is my team, this is my school, this is my program,” Moorhead said after the win. “You’ll have to drag my yankee ass out of here.”

This is a fun quote from Moorhead who, at different points this year, was thought to be looking for a ticket out of Starkville, had fans looking to buy that ticket out or both.

This has obviously been a trying season for a coach and a program that were hit with multiple suspensions before the season as well as multiple significant injuries including at quarterback. No, a 6-6 record is nothing to celebrate or even affirm belief that the program is heading in a positive direction, but there is something admirable in watching a team not give up when essentially everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

But for every Moorhead in games like this, there is a Matt Luke, whose demeanor during his postgame press conference was one of shock, and who can blame him? He was still in the digestion period after his team invented a new way to lose a football game.

“It’s just disappointing,” said a despondent Luke. “That’s not who we are, we’ve been a disciplined team all year. I’m just disappointed that it happened.”

The Rebels entered the regular season finale with just 54 penalties on the season which was tied with Arkansas for the lowest in the Southeastern Conference. And what’s worse, Moore’s antics erased what would’ve been a pretty fun feel-good story for Matt Corral.

Needing a spark in the passing game after the MSU defense bottled up John Rhys Plumlee, Luke and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez made the switch to the redshirt freshman quarterback in the fourth quarter and Corral twice moved the Rebels into the red zone through the air.

He did have one costly interception, but also completed a 4th-and-forever pass to Braylon Sanders in a do-or-die situation en route to leading the Rebels on what should’ve been the game-tying touchdown drive. Corral was not available for comment afterwards, but the immediate wonder is if that was his last game as a Rebel.

That though is something to ponder for another day. For now, we really just need to appreciate what took place Thursday night in Davis-Wade Stadium. Two teams, warts and all, competing for a trophy that boasts a deformed golden football. It may not always be pretty, but it’s nothing if not captivating.

I, for one, am thankful that it is in our lives.

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