Bulldogs bounce back, beat No. 16 Texas A&M

Published 10:41 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018

STARKVILLE (AP) — As they ran down the field for big play after big play, Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State put a forgettable month and Texas A&M safely in the rearview mirror.

Fitzgerald passed for 241 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 88 yards and two more touchdowns — including a 76-yarder to seal it with about two minutes to play — as the Bulldogs beat the 16th-ranked Aggies 28-13 on Saturday night.

Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) had its three-game winning streak snapped.

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Mississippi State (5-3, 2-3) had lost three of its previous four games coming in, and had scored a total of 16 points in those losses. Fitzgerald hadn’t thrown for more than 100 yards since Sept. 15 against Louisiana-Lafayette. One week after throwing four interceptions in a miserable loss to LSU, Fitzgerald completed 14 of 22 passes, including several big gains that swung the game in favor of the Bulldogs.

“I’m happy for every single person in our program, but I’m most happy for that kid, because he deserves it,” Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead said. “That’s the way we expect Fitzgerald to play.”

The biggest offensive moment might have been an 84-yard strike to Stephen Guidry on third-and-21 that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Fitzgerald and gave the Bulldogs a 21-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State’s defense was able to take it from there, and Erroll Thompson’s interception in the end zone with 2:36 remaining — along with Fitzgerald’s 76-yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive — sealed the victory.

Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond completed 23 of 46 passes for 232 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Aggies had just 61 yards rushing and their receivers dropped a half-dozen passes.

Mississippi State’s surprising ability to throw the ball started on the opening drive. Fitzgerald completed 6 of 7 passes for 59 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown to Guidry for a 7-0 lead. It was the team’s first passing touchdown in more than four SEC games. Fitzgerald also thres a 38-yard touchdown pass to Osirus Mitchell in the third quarter.

Texas A&M rallied to take a 10-7 lead into halftime but didn’t score a touchdown in the second half. The Aggies might have had more success in the first half, but several dropped passes hurt promising drives.

Texas A&M had some good moments but was rarely able to hit on the big plays that could have turned the momentum. Mond missed on a few long throws and the receivers had several drops. Trayveon Williams, who came into the game with 798 yards rushing, had just 26 yards on the ground.

“We had anywhere from seven to 10 drops off the top of my head and you just can’t do that,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It changes the whole dynamic of what you can do. It has a cumulative effect.”