Mississippi State gets in win column by crushing South Carolina

Published 12:21 am Sunday, September 11, 2016

STARKVILLE (AP) — Who needs Dak? Mississippi State has Nick.

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald set a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback, and the Bulldogs defeated South Carolina 27-14 Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.

Fitzgerald rushed 17 times for 195 yards and also passed for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Mississippi State (1-1) captured its first win of the season in its Southeastern Conference opener after being upset by South Alabama last week.

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“I like the effort the players came out with in the first half,” said Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen. “That looked like Mississippi State football. We have to do a better job in the red zone, especially in the first half and we had some big missed opportunities there. But we played with effort and I am not sure I saw that for the entire game last week.”

South Carolina (1-1, 1-1 SEC) was outgained 485-243 in total offense. The Gamecocks did register a pair of second half touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Brandon McIllwain, who started the second half after not playing in the first.

Fitzgerald’s rushing total broke a 36-year-old school record. His 195 yards easily passed former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond’s previous record of 163 yards in 1980 against Ole Miss.

“It was kinda what I saw last week when we decided to start Nick,” Mullen said. “He had a good week of practice. We had to make that decision to start him, let him go and play the game. We decided that before the game and he came out and played fairly well. There were a couple of things here and there in the throwing game but a lot of that comes from experience.”

Mississippi State rolled to a 24-0 lead at halftime thanks to a pair of touchdown passes by Fitzgerald. Receiver Fred Ross had a touchdown catch and a touchdown pass in the first half.

The Bulldogs outgained South Carolina 324-90 in the first half.