Bulldogs stumble again in loss to Texas A&M

Published 8:08 pm Saturday, October 17, 2020

STARKVILLE (AP) — Texas A&M controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock.

Isaiah Spiller ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Kellen Mond threw for two scores to help the No. 11 Aggies beat Mississippi State 28-14 on Saturday. Texas A&M ran out the final five minutes by pounding the ball on the ground with eight straight rushes by Ainias Smith.

“When you’re on the road, you’ve got to be able to control clock, control tempo, and you’ve got to run the football to do that,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. “And we did at times today. The other part was running out the last five, six minutes of the game when we got the ball and we got down there and could have had a score. We didn’t, but eating that clock up and not giving it back, that was huge.”

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Texas A&M (3-1) led 14-0 at the half and had 325 yards of total offense in the game. Smith caught five passes for 20 yards and a touchdown, to go along with 52 rushing yards. Chase Lane caught two passes, including a 51-yard touchdown reception in the opening minutes of the third quarter.

Mississippi State (1-3) had little offensive rhythm for the third straight game. The Bulldogs’ first touchdown came on Emmanuel Forbes’ interception return in the third quarter. The other was on a 32-yard pass from freshman Will Rogers to Malik Heath with 11:11 left in the game.

“I thought we literally squandered the first half,” Bulldog coach Mike Leach said. “Right now we’re one team on Tuesday and Wednesday and another team on Saturday. We need to be able to transition that to the field. And if you think that’s frustrating for you, you should try it from my perspective.”

Leach benched starting quarterback KJ Costello midway through the second half for freshman Will Rogers, same as he did last week in a 24-2 loss at Kentucky. Rogers finished 15-of-18 passing for 120 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Costello was 15-of-22 for 99 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and he was sacked five times. It was the first game this season in which Costello has not had an interception returned for a touchdown.

“Offensively, we were a bunch of pincushions out there,” Leach said. “And I think it’s mental on the part of our O-line, because we can block our own defensive line consistently in practice and A&M couldn’t even do that. So, it’s definitely mental.”

Texas A&M’s defense continually disrupted the line of scrimmage, finishing with six sacks and eight tackles for loss. Mississippi State had minus-2 yards rushing and just 217 yards of total offense.

Jo’Quavious Marks was the Bulldogs’ leading rusher, with 25 yards on only seven carries. The team’s longest rush of the game was eight yards.

Mississippi State scored 44 points in a season-opening win against LSU. Since then, it has scored a total of 30 points in three games — nine of which have been scored by the defense.

“Day 1 we believed in the game plan,” Texas A&M defensive tackle Jayden Peevy said. “We saw Kentucky come with a three-man front. We watched a lot of film against these guys. We saw (Kentucky) get a victory so we planned on it all week.”