EditorsNote: rewords last two grafs
Keytaon Thompson passed for 364 yards and five touchdowns while compiling 109 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and No. 18 Mississippi State cruised to a 63-6 win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.
Thompson completed two long touchdown passes, 84 yards and 30 yards, to Osirus Mitchell, and also hit on a 53-yard scoring pass to Kylin Hill. He also connected with Aeris Williams on a 27-yarder and Dontae Jones on a 17-yard play.
The win marked a feel-good debut for Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead. The previous offensive coordinator at Penn State replaced Dan Mullen, who left Mississippi State during the offseason to take the top job at Florida.
Foster Sawyer completed 10 of 27 passes for 147 yards in his season debut for Stephen F. Austin (0-1). The Lumberjacks opened the season against a Southeastern Conference opponent for the first time in their 92-year history.
Jamall Shaw led Stephen F. Austin with 31 rushing yards on six attempts. Teammate Josh McGowen added 23 yards on five carries.
Mississippi State (1-0) set the tone early as it built a 35-3 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs had 400 total yards (263 passing, 137 rushing) at the half, compared with 124 total yards (112 passing, 12 rushing) for the Lumberjacks.
Thompson opened the scoring with the deep strike to Hill with 13:10 to go in the first quarter. Thompson doubled the lead less than eight minutes later when he sprinted 9 yards to the end zone.
Less than two minutes after that, Thompson found Mitchell for 84 yards to make it 21-0.
The Lumberjacks snapped the shutout on a 36-yard field goal by Storm Ruiz, who also connected from 33 yards in the third quarter.
Mississippi State’s second-half scores included Thompson’s 30-yard pass to Mitchell as well as a 6-yard run by the wide receiver Hill. The win improved the Bulldogs’ record in season openers to 88-28-2.
Mississippi State returned 17 starters (nine on offense, eight on defense), making it one of the nation’s most experienced teams. The Bulldogs’ roster includes 19 seniors and 28 juniors.
Interim coach Jeff Byrd took over the Stephen F. Austin squad in June when Clint Conque was suspended amid an internal investigation. Conque resigned on Aug. 6.
—Field Level Media