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Mississippi College

Mississippi College Battles Millsaps in 2013 Backyard Brawl

August 9, 2013

Mississippi College football players won’t need much motivation when the Choctaws battle the Millsaps Majors in their Backyard Brawl series to open the 2013 season.

“You know it will be a hard fought game,’’ says MC wide receiver Alex Archer of Shreveport, Louisiana. “Nobody likes each other.’’

Set for September 7th at Robinson-Hale Stadium in Clinton, the Backyard Brawl is also the first game of the 2013 season, and that’s pretty important, too. “It’s really the only rivalry game of the year for us,’’ Archer said. MC seeks to bounce back after a 23-17 loss to Millsaps last September on the road at Harper Davis Field in Jackson.

A 22-year senior accounting major,  Archer joins teammates counting the days until the Choctaws face their metro Jackson rival with a 7 p.m.  kickoff. With the two church-affilated institutions located less than ten miles apart, the game should attract the biggest crowd of the season on MC’s home turf.

Last  September’s  triumph by Millsaps snapped a three-game Mississippi College winning streak. In the series dating back to 1920, the Choctaws lead by a 31-14 margin with six ties. With the exception of an occasional blowout, the series has stayed close in recent years, including an amazing 47-44 win by the Choctaws in two overtimes in September 2009. The 91 points scored by both teams is a Backyard Brawl record. MC's loss to Sul Ross State 72-45 last season, a combined 117 points, is a new record for both schools that play in the American Southwest Conference.

It’s not Auburn-Alabama, Ole Miss-Mississippi State or Florida State-Miami, but the NCAA Division III clash between MC and Millsaps is always special. The game is competitive, plenty of tailgaters bring their best dips, ribs and chocolate chip cookies, and cheerleaders keep the crowds pumped. A talented MC band in the stands always adds to the electricity at every Backyard Brawl in Central Mississippi.

With Choctaws head coach Norman Joseph seeing one of his former MC assistants now working for the Millsaps Majors, expect  him to tweak the playbook. It just adds another interesting twist to the rivalry.

Archer’s family will be well represented at  the D3 gridiron classic. At least of his twenty family members plan to make the trip from Louisiana that first Saturday in September.

A defensive back for the Choctaws, senior Austin Gray of Birmingham should see an equally large family contingent from Alabama make the journey to Clinton on September 7. He played in the Backyard Brawl in the capital city last season and didn’t relish the experience. Losing isn’t fun.

Closing out their Backyard Brawl experience on a winning note won’t be easy for the MC seniors. The Jackson visitors from the Southern Athletic Association finished the 2012 season with a 7-3 record. MC won just two games last season. The Choctaws are picked to finish 4th in the Texas-based American Southwest Conference in a new pre-season poll.

An accounting major, Gray expects both teams will be fired up even during pre-game warmups. “Any game where you play somebody close by, it is important and it always adds a competitive edge to it,’’ he said. The Backyard Brawl “has tradition and history. There will be a good turnout in our backyard.’’

In game one of the series in 1920, Mississippi College easily prevailed 60-0, and held the Majors  scoreless again the following year 56-0. But it’s been much closer ever since whenever Baptist-affiliated MC and United Methodist Church-affiliated Millsaps square off.

MC players get the opportunity to see all the Backyard Brawl tailgate food on campus, but can’t take one bite. The Choctaws, though, will feast on all the attention as they walk through the Quad and get greeted by thousands of fans. “It’s great to have that support at home,’’ Gray said.

The 2013 Backyard Brawl will feature a number of Mississippians including Choctaws kicker Craig McCraney of Clinton, a senior who’s a former Hinds Community College standout.

Tickets for the Backyard Brawl are $15 at the gate and $10 if obtained in advance at the MC Athletic Department  at the A.E. Wood Coliseum. For more information, call Missa Turman at 601-925-3341.