STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen believed in his special teams. The sixth-year coach backed both his kickers and punt returners prior to Mississippi State’s game against Arkansas.One made him look good. The other let him down.Mississippi State’s field goal unit played a vital role in the Bulldogs’ 17-10 win on Saturday. Jamoral Graham, on the other hand, mishandled a punt for the fourth straight game. Fred Ross took over for the true freshman after Graham’s fumble in the second quarter.Mullen hinted earlier in the week that, if healthy, Jameon Lewis would field punts for Mississippi State. The senior returned 22 last year. Lewis saw limited time on offense.“He’s still not 100 percent. To put him in that situation when he’s limited,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said. “We tried to limit him during the week. He was cleared for the Kentucky game and (Saturday), but he’s still not 100 percent.”Lewis caught his first pass since the LSU game on Sept. 20. It went for 2 yards.Ross fielded the first punts of his of his career against Arkansas. He fair caught each one, so he officially did not record a return.“Fred did a nice job catching the punts, though,” Mullen said. “In practice, everybody does a nice job.”Mullen has raved about both his kickers’ abilitiy during practice this season. Evan Sobiesk and Logan Cooke didn’t miss many kicks during their pregame routines. Sobiesk even converted a 50-yarder.The sophomore succeeded in the game as well. He drilled a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter to tie the game at 10.“I had faith in him,” Mullen said.It came after MSU decided to keep its offense on the field on the previous drive. The Bulldogs took their chances on fourth-and-one from the 22 rather than attempting a 39 yard field goal.“That was me. That had nothing to do with anything else,” Mullen said. “We had fourth-and-one at the 20. I thought we were moving the ball. I thought we’d have a good play called.”Instead, Arkansas stopped quarterback Dak Prescott on a rush.“As it shook out, I probably should have kicked form there,” Mullen said. “It’s much easier to make the call after the game.”Sobiesk’s make was the longest of the season for Mississippi State. He is still the only MSU kicker to make a field goal this season. He is now 5 of 6. His season-long prior to Saturday was 28 yards.Arkansas’ special teams didn’t come through in the fourth. The Razorbacks missed a 42-yarder early in the quarter.The Razorbacks decided not to attempt field goals later in the fourth, as well. They converted on fourth-and-three form their own 21 midway through thequarter.In the end, it didn’t matter. Arkansas nevercut the lead to less than a touchdown in the final 13 minutes.Mullen opted for true freshman Logan Cooke last week to attempt a 40-plus yarder against Kentucky. He wanted to get the first-year player confidence in a game situation.MSU hadn’t attempted a field goal when trailing in the second half this season. It now has experience in pressure situations.“That was a huge kick for us,” Mullen said.Contact Michael Bonner at (601) 961-7289 or mbonner @jackson.gannett.com. Follow @MikeBBonner on Twitter.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat Kings“By the end of this, there will have been more money put into this race than ever before,” said Massie Rich, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group that tracks campaign contributions. Rich estimated that when all is said and done in the 2008 race, the candidates will have raised at least $1billion, the first time that mark will have been passed. And if previous years are an indication, between 10percent and 15percent of that money will come from California. “They’re raising more, the stakes are higher and they’ve got to raise it faster. California is one of the pots of gold,” said University of Southern California political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. Democratic front-runners Sens.Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have already raised a combined $25million from California. Four years ago, Sen. John Kerry raised about $36million from the state throughout his entire campaign. There’s a similar trend among Republicans. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have raised $11million from the Golden State – more than half of everything George W. Bush took from California in 2004. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has raised $3.7million from the state – about 16percent of his total contributions. “McCain jokes that he spends a lot of time in San Diego to visit his constituents,” Jeffe said, noting that even with his overall fundraising lag the Arizona senator remains deeply popular in California. Rich said the spike in contributions isn’t coming only from California. The average top-giving industry already has forked over 46percent more than the equivalent period in 2004. The securities and investment industry, for example, has donated more than $21million to Republican and Democrat front-runners – 91percent more than they had given by this time in the previous election. The entertainment industry, meanwhile, is up a full 68percent. Candidates for the 2008 presidential election also are assembling formidable campaign operations in California, with Giuliani and Clinton wielding what many call the most aggressive in the state. Each also has built up a prominent list of California endorsements, with Clinton scooping up Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and three Los Angeles City Council members. Obama has Los Angeles state Assemblywoman Karen Bass and state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero. Among Republicans, Romney has former state Assemblyman Tony Strickland in his corner, while Giuliani picked up Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, and has the backing of a number of other California Congress members including Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs. But some argue that despite California’s insistence that an earlier primary would help it become more than an ATM machine for candidates, it still remains primarily a lucrative funding base for candidates. An analysis of the records earlier this year found that close to $1million was donated in the first quarter by donors who identified themselves as living in San Fernando Valley area communities. And contributors who identified themselves as being from Los Angeles – which could include Valley residents – gave more than $3million in the first quarter alone. Jeffe noted that the record giving comes in the wake of new campaign laws limiting donations to $2,300 per candidate, per campaign – for a total of $4,600 in the primary and general elections. “They’re raising that much even with a new ceiling on campaign contributions,” she said. “That is really significant.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Presidential contenders are digging deeper into Californians’ pockets than ever before, already raising more than $50million in the Golden State even before campaigns get aggressively under way. The tally so far amounts to nearly 70percent of the $76million raised in California during the entire 2004 campaign cycle and virtually assures that contributions this election year will surpass previous fundraising, according to campaign records. The massive donations come as the state’s early Feb. 5 primary has added new clout to California and spurred a renewed candidate focus on the region. And with no heir apparent for either party yet – and states leapfrogging one another to get the jump on early primaries – candidates have put a premium on raising big money.