Nick Fitzgerald threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more to lead Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech 57-21 on Saturday night.
Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons scored two touchdowns, one after blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone, and another after recovering a fumble and running 90 yards for the touchdown. It was the first time a Mississippi State defensive player scored two touchdowns in a game since Jonathan Banks in 2009.
Mississippi State’s relatively carefree evening of football didn’t start out so well.
Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 9-0 lead, partly thanks to an errant Fitzgerald throw that was intercepted by Amik Robertson and returned to Mississippi State’s 2-yard line. Two plays later Kam McKnight ran for a 1-yard touchdown.
That’s where the good news ended for Louisiana Tech. Mississippi State scored the next 36 points to push ahead 36-14 at halftime. Fitzgerald scored on a 44-yard run just 33 seconds into the second half to push the advantage to 43-14 and erase any doubt about the outcome.
Mississippi State: It was a rough start for the Bulldogs but they recovered in a hurry. The defense and special teams were outstanding while erasing the early 9-0 deficit and then the offense eventually found its footing. A much tougher task awaits next Saturday against LSU.
Louisiana Tech: A great start faded quickly for Louisiana Tech, which couldn’t regain the momentum once it was lost on Saturday night. The Bulldogs struggled to throw the ball after some early success and once they became one-dimensional the Mississippi State defense was dominant.
Mississippi State hosts No. 12 LSU in its Southeastern Conference opener next Saturday.
Louisiana Tech travels to face Western Kentucky in its Conference USA opener next Saturday.