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Liberty Bowl

Derek Pegues and Bulldogs bowl over Central Florida

By Angie Ledbetter

Derek Pegues, a junior free safety who played football at South Panola High School, was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of Saturday’s 2007 Liberty Bowl game against University of Central Florida. Pegues finished with two interceptions and four tackles, one for a loss. He was the first defensive player to be named MVP since 2003. He is the seventh defensive player to be named MVP in the 49 years of bowl history. He was also named defensive player of the game.

Mississippi State defeated Central Florida 10-3 before an announced record crowd of 63,856.

Pegues talked about his two big plays.

“They are big. I was disappointed. I didn’t think that I had the season that I expected to have. I feel like I let my team down. In these last two games, I was able to make a couple of big plays for my team. I am just real excited. We came out with a winning record and I am just ready for next year.”

Pegues commented about playing at South Panola.

“I think that it has helped me tremendously playing at South Panola. Like Coach Croom said, I knew how to win. I am from a winning program. People don’t think that I go down for any games, but I have been down to a couple. I am busy in college and just enjoying it. God has truly blessed me with a tremendous ability and I am just glad that I am getting to use it and putting it to a good use.”

Bulldog head coach Sylvester Croom said, “Coming out on the field was an awesome feeling. It was better than any home game, seeing all of the maroon and hearing all of the cowbells. The fans supported us and stuck with us to the end. To some people, we might have been struggling, but we weren’t struggling. That’s just Mississippi State football.”

Croom talked about Pegues.

“Three years ago when Derek called me and told me that he wanted to play football for me, I promised him that we would win a bowl game and a championship before he graduated. Well, we won a bowl game and now we have to win a championship game next year.”