Tommy Stevens, a graduate transfer from Penn State making his first college start, passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as Mississippi State held off Louisiana 38-28 in the season opener for both teams Saturday afternoon in New Orleans.
Stevens completed 20 of 30 passes for 236 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown to Osirus Mitchell on the first possession of the game and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Austin Williams early in the fourth quarter. He added a 4-yard touchdown run that broke a 14-all tie with 31 seconds left in the first half.
Kylin Hill rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown for the Bulldogs, who defeated the Ragin’ Cajuns 56-10 last season in Starkville, Miss.
Hill carried 27 times and scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter as the Bulldogs extended their lead to 28-14.
After Hill’s touchdown run provided all of the third-quarter scoring, Malik Dear’s 40-yard punt return set up Stevens’ touchdown pass to Williams on the following play. That gave Mississippi State a 35-14 lead with 13:07 remaining.
Nick Gibson had an 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter for the Bulldogs, who were coming off an 8-5 season in coach Joe Moorhead’s first year.
Levi Lewis ran for one touchdown and passed for another, and Elijah Mitchell ran 3 yards for a first-quarter touchdown for the Cajuns.
Lewis completed 24 of 39 passes for 267 yards and threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Nick Ralston in the second quarter. Lewis ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 9:56 left in the game.
The Cajuns then drove 99 yards in 14 plays, capped by Trey Ragas’ 17-yard run for a touchdown with 2:45 left, to pull within a touchdown. Louisiana attempted an onside kick, but the ball bounced out of bounds.
The Bulldogs drove 23 yards to set up Jordan Lawless’ 37-yard field goal that completed the scoring with 1:02 left.
Louisiana committed five turnovers — three fumbles and two interceptions. MSU lost two fumbles.
—Field Level Media