STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Nick Fitzgerald threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores to lead Mississippi State over No. 16 Texas A&M 28-13 on Saturday night.
Mississippi State (5-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) won thanks to an unexpected boost from its passing game, which was among the least productive in the SEC coming into the night. 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.
The biggest might have been a 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 (5-3, 3-2) had its three-game winning streak snapped. Kellen Mond completed 23 of 46 passes for 232 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Aggies had just 61 yards rushing.
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 Stephen Guidry for a 7-0 lead. It was the team's first passing touchdown in more than four SEC games.
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.
It was a huge game for Mississippi State's offense, which looked completely overmatched in last week's loss to LSU. If the Bulldogs are able to pass like this the rest of the season, there could be several more wins remaining on the schedule. The defense - as it has been all season - was excellent.
Texas A&M travels to face Auburn next Saturday.
Mississippi State hosts Louisiana Tech next Saturday.
· With the 28-13 setback against Mississippi State the Aggies fall to 5-3 on the season and 3-2 in SEC play.
· Senior LB Otaro Alaka posted nine tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss of yardage and a quarterback pressure.
· Junior LB Tyrel Dodson posted eight tackles on the night, including five solo tackles.
· Sophomore QB Kellen Mond used seven different receivers to complete 23-of-46 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown.
· Junior punter Braden Mann boomed his 18th punt of 50 or more yards with a 54-yarder early in the first quarter. He is chasing the NCAA record of 32 by West Virginia’s Todd Sauerbrun in 1994 (on 72 punts).
· The Aggies took a lead into the locker room after a 34-yard TD catch and run by Quartney Davis with 0:14 seconds left in the first half.
· Freshman RB Jashaun Corbin paced the Aggies in rushing (three attempts for 33 yards) for the first time in his collegiate career.
· Sophomore DL Jayden Peevy picked up his first sack of the season and second of his career.
· The Aggies took a 10-7 lead into halftime and held statistical advantages in total yards, totally plays, rushing yards, passing yards, first downs and yards per play.
Game Captains, 12thMan ---
· Texas A&M’s game captains for the Mississippi State game were senior DE Kingsley Keke, senior DE Landis Durham, junior RB Trayveon Williams and junior C Erik McCoy. Mississippi State won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. The Aggies received the opening kickoff.
· Senior RB Cullen Gillaspia was the Aggies’ 12th Man for the 34th straight game.