STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Will Rogers threw for 370 yards and Mississippi State scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to secure a 35-34 come-from-behind victory over Louisiana Tech in Saturday’s season opener.
LA Tech trailed 14-0 in the first quarter before rattling off 34 unanswered points against the Southeastern Conference’s No. 4-ranked total defense from a season ago.
Mississippi State turned the ball over four times, committed 12 penalties for 95 yards and often looked confused and listless in the first game of head coach Mike Leach’s second season in Starkville.
But in the game’s final 12 minutes, down 20, the Bulldogs regained their offensive composure. Jo’Quavious Marks rushed for two short-yardage touchdowns, then Rogers found Jaden Walley for a 15-yard strike to put Mississippi State back on top.
Tech kicker Caleb Phillips missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in the game’s final seconds to complete the comeback.
Rogers was 39-for-47 with three touchdowns and one interception. Marks led all rushers with 71 yards and also caught nine balls for 27 yards and a touchdown. Jamire Calvin also caught a touchdown.
Austin Kendall was 20-for-36 for 269 yards and also led the team in rushing with 68 yards. Harris Smoke caught four passes for 52 yards, including one 24-yard touchdown. Bub Means also caught a 72-yard strike.
Mississippi State: Though victorious, all is not well in Starkville. Leach’s second-year squad begins the year right where they left off in 2020 — inconsistent.
Louisiana Tech: With an extra stop here or a gust of wind there, this could have been a signature win for ninth-year Tech coach Skip Holtz. There are no moral victories in college sports, but there are certainly momentum-building losses. This feels like one of those.
Mississippi State will stay at home next week to host North Carolina State while the Bulldogs will open their home schedule against Southeastern Louisiana.
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