COLLEGE STATION, Texas (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Mississippi State (6-2, 3-2 SEC) notched its third straight convincing victory Saturday night with an impressive 35-14 road triumph at Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2).
State has outscored its last three opponents a combined 115-31 while becoming bowl-eligible for a school-record eighth consecutive season under ninth-year head coach Dan Mullen.
The Bulldogs led 14-0 at halftime Saturday behind a couple of touchdown drives engineered by quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. After each team failed to score on the first two drives of the game, State marched 86 yards on 16 plays, capped by a 2-yard Fitzgerald scoring run. The second score was set up by a Bulldog interception from Mark McLaurin, putting State in business near midfield with roughly five minutes remaining in the first half. After Fitzgerald scampered 45 yards off right end to the A&M 11-yard line, he would hit Donald Gray two plays later for an 8-yard TD pass.
In the second half, MSU picked up right where it left off. The Bulldog defense forced an Aggie three-and-out. Fitzgerald connected with Farrod Green for 41 yards on the ensuing possession and that play led to a 10-yard touchdown pass from the Bulldog signal caller to Jordan Thomas. State led 21-0. Texas A&M answered on the next drive with its first score of the night, a direct snap to back Keith Ford for a 1-yard score that capped a 76-yard jaunt by the Aggies.
After the Texas A&M forced an MSU punt, it seemed they were gaining momentum. But the Bulldog defense quickly snuffed that thought when Lashard Durr picked off a Kellen Mond pass and returned it to the TAMU 32-yard line. Three State rushes later, the Bulldogs led 28-7 on the shoulders of a 14-yard Nick Gibson TD rumble.
With A&M driving in the red zone midway through the fourth quarter, State's defense would strike again when Jamal Peters intercepted an Aggie pass and returned it 90 yards for a pick six. Texas A&M would answer with a 70-yard TD pass to cap scoring for the night.
Fitzgerald once again led the Bulldog offensive charge, completing 12-of-21 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He also eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground with 105 yards and one TD.
Aeris Williams had 68 yards rushing. Jesse Jackson and Green were Fitzgerald's top passing targets, Jackson with four receptions for 39 yards and Green with three for 51.
In addition to the three interceptions that led to 21 Bulldog points, State was led defensively by Leo Lewis and Johnathan Abram with eight tackles each. Montez Sweat produced another big night with six stops and two sacks in the contest.
State returns home next Saturday, Nov. 4, welcoming UMass to Davis Wade Stadium in the Bulldogs' final non-conference bout of 2017. The game will kickoff at 11 a.m. CT and be televised by the SEC Network.