The ball dropped to the ground, along with the hope of Mississippi State University scoring a late touchdown to win the game. The University of Iowa won 27-22 with the Bulldogs falling short, just like the pass, of a 9-4 season.
Senior Johnathan Abram, a safety from Columbia, had a dejected reaction toward the loss.
"It was disappointing because I know we are a much better team than that, especially on defense," Abram said. "We did a bunch of things today that were completely out of character, especially for me. We left a lot of plays out there that we want back."
The day did not start off badly for the Bulldogs, as two field goals gave MSU the lead and the early advantage in the first quarter, but MSU left at least 12 points on the field at the end of the day. Head coach Joe Moorhead said dropped points and penalties cost them in scoring.
"In a tight game like this where we are chasing points, that makes a bunch of difference down there at the end of the game," Moorhead said.
In the second quarter, Iowa woke up and like a bird of prey, swooped in to take the lead with two touchdown passes of 75 and 15 yards to make it 17-6 at the half. The first touchdown was a result of miscommunication as Abrams described what happened.
"I thought we were going to an alert, certain alerts we go into a pressure," Abrams said. "The tight end stepped off the ball and we were ready to go to a pressure, but not everyone was on the same page."
MSU had a rip in the sails on the long touchdown pass, and it gave the Hawkeyes a big shift in momentum. Before the play, MSU fans were ringing their cowbells loudly and everything seemed to be in favor of MSU. One deep ball later, and all of the crowd's energy swung to Iowa momentarily.
At halftime, down nine and having to make adjustments, the Bulldogs found themselves needing explosive plays and a discipline in the second half which they had lacked in the game thus far. They would get a spark from Willie Gay Jr., a sophomore linebacker from Starkville, as he ran an interception down to the 6-yard line.
"I read the play before it even happened, I made a break on the ball and tried to score, but it did not happen," Gay said. "We knew after the two turnovers that we had a chance. We needed to make some stops on defense and at least make them kick field goals. We just came up short that is all."
That interception set up a touchdown drive as three plays later, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald from Richmond Hills, Georgia, completed a 1-yard shovel pass to Kylin Hill who dove into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown. The touchdown brought MSU back in the game, down by just five.
During the next kickoff, MSU flipped the momentum in their favor with a fumble forced on a massive hit by MSU. Fitzgerald then raced 33 yards to make it a two-point lead over Iowa, and to go up 19-17. Gerry Green, a senior defensive end from Greenville, said the momentum swings were something the team called “energy juice.”
"We call it energy juice, and we came out kind of flat and we ended the second quarter kind of flat,” Green said. "But we picked it right back up. It was one of those back-and-forth games, and I enjoyed playing in it. It was one of the most fun games of my career, just going back and forth, not sure what was going to happen next."
Osirus Mitchell, a sophomore wide receiver from Sarasota, Florida, made a huge catch to extend the drive that would not really matter in the end, as Iowa would intercept the ball a few plays later in the end zone. The catch was spectacular, as Mitchell went up and made a one-handed catch in between two defenders.
"I had a stutter and go; he did not bite on the stutter," Mitchell said. "I knew it was going to be a jump ball because he did not bite on the stutter route, so I just high pointed the ball and made sure I had it. He actually played good defense on it, but I was able to use my strong hands to keep the ball secure."
After the interception, Iowa scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Stanley to Easley; however, MSU answered with a deep shot to Stephen Guidry, which set up a field goal made by Christmann to make the game 24-22. However, Iowa would kick a 40-yard field goal and hang onto the lead. Penalties impacted the game, as MSU would commit nine penalties for 90 yards.
"You cannot turn the ball over, cannot give up explosive plays, and you cannot have penalties take points off of the board," Moorhead said. "It is my responsibility that those things get corrected and are right moving forward. We did not do a good enough job coaching them and putting them in the right position to win. In between the whistles, we did not do enough to earn the right to win."