The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M falls 28-13 against Mississippi State in Starkville for second road game loss

Photo by Photo by Annie Lui

Senior defensive line Landis Durham has a total of 27 tackles this season.

The Aggies entered the Davis-Wade Stadium on Saturday looking to further their three-game winning streak and dispel any rumors of a late-season collapse. Their chances were dashed by one man: Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald notched four touchdowns, including two on the ground, and garnered 241 passing yards to lead the unranked Mississippi State team in the 28-13 upset of the No. 16 Aggies. This comes one week after the senior play caller threw four interceptions in their loss to LSU, leading to speculation that he would be benched in favor of sophomore quarterback Keytaon Thompson.
“[Fitzgerald] played a good game tonight,” A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He had some big throws when he had to. He made a big run or two [and] had some scrambles. He’s a really good football player and he played well against us tonight.”
Fresh off a bye week, A&M went to Starkville with a 5-2 season record and a 3-1 record against conference opponents.
The Aggies struggled to get things moving on the ground against the Bulldogs, accumulating only 61 rushing yards. The passing game fared better, though it was plagued by dropped passes. Sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond completed 23 of 46 passes for 232 yards.
It was those missed opportunities that hurt the Aggies in the long run.
“[Bulldogs] took advantage of their opportunities,” Fisher said. “We didn’t make the plays. On the night, we probably had anywhere from seven to 10 dropped balls and you can’t do that. We didn’t play well enough. That’s the bottom line.”
The Aggie run defense, which ranked first in the SEC and fourth in the nation going into the game, allowed 143 rushing yards, 88 of which came from Fitzgerald. The defense also allowed seven third-down conversions by the Bulldogs, despite being ranked second in the nation in third-down defense.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” senior defensive lineman Landis Durham said. “There was one play, the long pass they had on third down that I could have countered back, maybe got a sack. There’s just things that we have to look at as a whole, whether it’s DBs holding their coverage or D-Line making that last move to finish the play off.”
Mississippi State scored the only points of the first quarter with a 12-play, 79-yard drive that Fitzgerald capped off with a 25-yard pass to junior wide receiver Stephen Guidry, who ended the game with 130 total receiving yards on only three receptions.
The Aggies bounced back in the second quarter with a 34-yard field goal by freshman Seth Small and a 34-yard pass from Mond to sophomore wide receiver Quartney Davis to lead 10-7 into halftime.
However, A&M lost its momentum as Mississippi State opened the second half with a one-yard touchdown run by Fitzgerald. Small booted a 41-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter to give the Aggies their last points of the night.
The most outstanding play of the night came at the end of the third quarter when Fitzgerald tossed an 84-yard bomb to Guidry to convert on third-and-21. A&M junior defensive back Larry Pryor pulled Guidry down on the two-yard line, but it didn’t seem to matter as Fitzgerald capped off the 6-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run three plays later to put Mississippi State up 21-13.
“We thought we were going to get the ball back,” Fisher said. “Then they hit the play and go all the way down to the two and score a touchdown. That’s a huge play in the game. They hit three big third and longs and that’s where you have to finish.”
The Aggies had a chance to tie the game at the end of the fourth quarter with a stand on the 10-yard line, but the Bulldog defense shut down the effort with an eight-yard sack and an interception in the end zone.
Mississippi State then sealed the win on the resulting drive from their own 20-yard line, as Fitzgerald dashed for a 76-yard touchdown run.
The Aggies will finish off their slate of road games on Saturday at Auburn.

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