Mississippi St. Wins SEC Football Opener
Director of Digital Media
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- On a steamy evening at Davis Wade Stadium, self-inflicted wounds and Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald were too much for LSU Football to overcome in the SEC opener.
LSU (2-1, 0-1 SEC), which had two players ejected for targeting in a nine-penalty game, fell to State (3-0, 1-0 SEC), 37-7.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs scored 30 unanswered points against LSU's defensive depleted from injury and disqualification. The junior passed for 180 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 88 with two more scores. Aeris Williams led the Bulldogs with 146 yards on 23 carries.
LSU was outgained, 465-270.
LSU returns to action Saturday, Sept. 23, when Syracuse (2-1) visits Tiger Stadium for the first time in history. The game time will be either 6 or 6:30 p.m. CT (television network and exact start time are expected to be announced by the SEC on Sunday).
Mississippi State won the coin toss and deferred its decision until the second half. LSU took the opening kickoff while with the Bulldogs defending the south endzone.
Five-straight punts filled the first quarter, as penalties stalled both offenses and MSU outgained LSU, 90-64. On the first drive of the contest, the Tigers had a 67-yard touchdown reception by DJ Chark from Etling called back for offensive pass interference on what was deemed a pick by Stephen Sullivan.
State's Fitzgerald broke a scoreless tie with 13:38 to play in the first quarter, capping an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 3-yard leap into the endzone. A 28-yard run by Aeris Williams Mississippi State led 7-0.
LSU also ran eight plays for 65 yards to knot the game at 7-7 when Darrel Williams scored from 10 yards with 9:44 left in the half. All eight plays were rushes, including the first five by Guice for 45 yards. Derrick Dillon appears to score on an end-around, however, the touchdown came off the board when Chark was called for a hold at the Bulldogs 7-yard line.
With the help of two 15-yard penalties on LSU, State took the lead back with a 30-yard Jace Chhristmann field goal with 5:04 to play in the half.
Another LSU penalty on the first play of the ensuing drive kept the Tigers from gaining a first down. Following a 31-yard Josh Growden punt, the Bulldogs used Fitzgerald's legs to push the advantage to 17-7 with seven seconds left in the first half.
LSU appeared to have a quick three-and-out of State on the opening drive, however, a roughing-the-passer penalty on linebacker Donnie Alexander not only gave the Bulldogs a first down but saw Alexander ejected for targeting. An 18-yard rush by Williams setup a 45-yard field goal by Christmann.
MSU extended its lead to 20-7 with 10:53 left in the third quarter.
LSU's eighth penalty of the evening came on State's next drive, another trageting call for a face-to-face collision between Fitzgerald and freshman defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr.
After State converted a third-and-1 just past the yard to gain, Fitzgerald just avoided LSU linebacker Devin White on a blitz and found Keith Mixon all alone for a 45-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs led 27-7.
A dropped pass by Chark near midfield led to a 52-yard LSU punt that returned by Donald Gray 34 yards to its 40. The Bulldogs used a 24-yard run by Fitzgerald to get in the LSU redzone, however, LSU got off the field with only a 27-yard field goal by Christmann to trail 30-7 with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Fitzgerald to Deddrick Thomas extended the Mississippi State lead to 37-7 with 13:01 to play.
Attendance was announced as 60,596 at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.