EditorsNote: Several tweaks, included reworked lede
A week after throwing four interceptions in a loss at LSU, Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald came up huge for the Bulldogs in a 28-13 victory Saturday night against 16th-ranked Texas A&M at Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs quarterback threw for 241 passing yards and two touchdown passes, plus a pair of rushing scores in the fourth quarter.
The Mississippi State defense chipped in late in the game when Erroll Thompson picked off Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond in the end zone. Two plays later, Fitzgerald bolted 76 yards on a quarterback counter for his second running score to nail down the win.
It was the 42nd rushing touchdown of his career, a school record.
Mississippi State needed everything Fitzgerald could muster against the Aggies (5-3, 3-2 SEC), who were trying to keep pace with LSU for second place in the SEC West.
Despite a night when the offense struggled to solve the Bulldogs (5-3, 2-3), A&M stuck close, aided by a pair of costly Mississippi State penalties right before halftime.
Down 7-0, the Aggies produced 10 second-quarter points, buoyed by a touchdown 14 seconds before halftime.
A&M got the ball when the Bulldogs came up short on a fourth-down play. Personal foul and defensive pass interference calls on Mississippi State smoothed out the path, and Kellen Mond made those sting when he lofted a 34-yard scoring strike to Quartney Davis.
That touchdown put the Bulldogs behind for the first time, but the deficit did not last long as they took the third-quarter kickoff and went on a seven-play, 75-yard march.
Fitzgerald connected on all three throws — the last for a 38-yard score to Osirus Mitchell.
Texas A&M pulled within 14-13 late in the third period when it cashed in on Roshauud Paul’s 33-yard punt return with Seth Small’s 41-yard field goal.
On the ensuing possession, the Aggies’ Jayden Peevy dumped Fitzgerald for a 12-yard loss on first down, but on third-and-21, Fitzgerald hooked up with Stephen Guidry for an 84-yard chunk play to the A&M 2.
Three plays later, Fitzgerald bulled in on third down to nudge the advantage to 21-13.
The Aggies managed only 293 total yards, and 94 of those came on two fruitless fourth-quarter possessions. Mond accounted for 232 through the air, but A&M scratched out only 61 yards on the ground.
—Field Level Media