Photo courtesy MSU Athletics
Mississippi State University entered their game against Vanderbilt University looking for a second win of the season. The Bulldogs barely had the required number of players to play the game.
The Southeastern Conference requires that each team have 53 scholarship players. MSU played the Commodores with 55 players—well short of the 85 scholarship players a program normally has on game day.
Things were so bad that MSU had to start a freshman quarterback who was making his first college start. The Bulldogs would need a big day from the defense to help the freshman making his first start.
The Bulldogs’ defense stepped up in a big way by forcing Vanderbilt into five turnovers. MSU forced the Commodores into two fumbles and three interceptions.
One of the biggest defensive stands came from Marquis Spencer in the fourth quarter. The senior defensive end made back-to-back big plays when the Bulldogs needed it most.
MSU raced out to a 17-0 lead, and Vanderbilt battled back to cut the Bulldogs lead to 17-14. The Commodores had just completed a long pass to reach the Bulldogs 27 yard line and were threatening to tie or take the lead.
On the next play after the big pass play, Spencer tackled the Vanderbilt running back for a one-yard loss. Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals dropped back to pass and Spencer made this next second straight big play.
The Greenwood, Miss., native picked off Seals for his first career interception. He returned the ball to the Vanderbilt 43 yard line to turn back the Commodores' threat.
Spencer recorded four tackles including a tackle for a loss and the big interception. His tackle for a loss gave him a team high 6.5 for the season and his interception return went for 27 yards.
The SEC honored Spencer as Defensive Lineman of the Week for his efforts against the Commodores. Spencer is the first Bulldog to receive the award since both Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat earned the honor in the 2018 season.
So far this season, Spencer has 24 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. He is just 13 tackles from tying his career high set last season of 37 tackles. He is tied with his career high of 6.5 tackles for a loss also set last season.
The 2.5 sacks by Spencer already surpasses his career high of two that was set last season. Spencer has 100 total tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, four passes defended, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception.
Spencer and the Bulldogs won’t play this weekend against Auburn University. MSU was forced to postpone the game due to positive tests and contact tracing. The Bulldogs next will take the field until Nov. 21 when they face the University of Georgia.
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