NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Graduate transfer Tommy Stevens passed for two touchdowns and ran for one in his first college start as Mississippi State defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 38-28 on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Stevens, who was a backup at Penn State when Bulldogs' second-year coach Joe Moorhead was the Nittany Lions' offensive coordinator, completed 20 of 30 passes for 236 yards. He had passes of 31 yards to Osirus Mitchell on the game's first possession and 12 yard to Austin Williams early in the fourth quarter to complete a 21-0 run.
Kylin Hill rushed 27 times for 197 yards and a touchdown and Stevens had a 4-yard touchdown run that broke a 14-all tie with 31 seconds left in the first half.
Levi Lewis ran for one touchdown and passed for another for the Ragin' Cajuns. He threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Nick Ralston in the second quarter and ran 1 yard for a touchdown that completed the scoring with 9:56 left in the game.
Lewis completed 24 off 39 for 267 yards.
Elijah Mitchell added a 3-yard, first-quarter touchdown run and Trey Ragas' 17-yard touchdown run capped a 99-yard drive for the Cajuns with 2:45 left.
Mississippi State: An adequate though sloppy start for a team that won eight games and went to a bowl game last season.
Louisiana-Lafayette: Self-inflicted wounds prevented the Cajuns from having a more competitive effort. Five turnovers - three fumbles and two interceptions - limited ULL's opportunities in a game it never led.
Mississippi State announced before the game that seven players, including thee starters, were suspended for the opener "due to a violation of team rules."
The starters were DT Lee Autry, LB Willie Gay Jr. and K Jace Christmann. Jordan Lawless, who was listed as a co-starter with Christmann, missed a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter but kicked a 37-yarder with 1:02 left in the game.
The other suspended players were listed as second team on the two-deep: WR Devonta Jason, OL Kwatrivous Johnson, S Marcus Murphy and OL Michael Story.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs play their home opener against Southern Mississippi on Saturday.
Louisiana-Lafayette: The Cajuns play a true home game when they host Liberty on Saturday.