Press Release from Delta State
The Statesmen (2-2, 1-1 GSC) of Delta State University welcome in-state rival Mississippi College to Parker Field-McCool Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 29, as they host the Choctaws (2-2, 0-2 GSC) in the 37th Heritage Bell Classic. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 as the GSC-TV Live Game of the Week. Former DSU head coach Rick Rhoades will team-up with Don Russell to call the clash of in-state rivals.
Featuring two of the Gulf South Conference's most tradition-rich programs, the annual battle between Delta State and Mississippi College was one of the most anticipated contests in the "Magnolia State" from 1973-1995. Following the 1995 season, MC left the GSC and NCAA DII to compete at the NCAA DIII level. The series began in 1935 with a 33-0 Choctaws victory and has always featured streaks by both teams. In fact, MC won the first four meetings between the two teams.
DSU ran off six straight wins from 1948-1969, with a 30-30 tie in 1970 sandwiched between another five-game win streak.
DSU and MC, which returned to NCAA DII in 2014, are meeting for the 37th time on the gridiron, with the Statesmen owning a 19-15-2 edge in the series standings. DSU has won the last four meetings in the series, including a 27-3 victory in the last game in Cleveland on Nov. 15, 2014 in which the Statesmen rolled up 532 yards of total offense en route to victory after a 19-year series hiatus.
Last year's matchup, a 37-29 Delta State victory, was a barn-burner at Robinson-Hale Stadium in Clinton. After trailing 23-17 at halftime, the Statesmen outscored the Choctaws 20-6 in the second half to claim the win. Tyler Sullivan completed 32-of-46 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
Coach John Bland is in his third season at Mississippi College where he led the Choctaws to a 2-2 start, including an 0-2 mark in GSC play. MC's two victories this year have come against NAIA competition, including a narrow 27-26 win over Cumberland (Tenn.) last Saturday at Robinson-Hale Stadium in Clinton. Known as a triple-option coach, Bland's MC offense is averaging 387.3 yards per game, 174 rushing and 213.3 passing, while averaging 17.0 points per game.
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