Rapid Reaction: MSU's Rogers passes Bulldogs past Aggies
With major SEC battles between ranked teams taking center stage, it was a game way down on the Saturday card that provided the most entertainment.
Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers III carved up the Aggies defense, piloting to near perfection head coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack, and the Bulldogs upset No. 15 Texas A&M, 26-22, at Kyle Field. Rogers out dueled Aggies quarterback Zach Calzada, who relied more on a balanced attack with standout RBs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane churning up the yardage on the ground. The two combined for 183 rushing yards.
The Bulldogs improve to 3-2 and 1-1 in the SEC while Texas A&M falls to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Rogers completed 46-of-59 passes for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did not throw an interception.
Texas A&M kicker Seth Small nailed a 44-yard field goal with 5:39 left in the 4th quarter to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 24-22. But the Bulldogs got most of that back when Nathan Pickering sacked Calzada in the end zone for a safety and a 26-22 lead with 2:02 remaining. The Aggies opted for an onsides kick that Mississippi State recovered.
Rogers had extended the Bulldogs’ halftime lead to 24-13 midway through the 3rd quarter with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Makai Polk. It was their 2nd touchdown connection of the game and capped an impressive 10-play, 77-yard drive.
But the back-and-forth game swung to Texas A&M’s side with the Aggies putting together a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive of their own. Calzada scrambled 25 yards for the touchdown but his 2-point conversion pass failed, leaving the Aggies trailing 24-19 after 3 quarters.
Mississippi State grabbed an early 3-0 lead. A Fred Peters interception led to a 24-yard field goal by Nolan McCord, who also missed 2 other attempts later in the game.
But Calzada made up for the mistake with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Wydermyer, giving the Aggies a 7-3 lead. The 5-play, 65-yard drive was highlighted by a 44-yard run from scrimmage by Spiller against a Bulldogs defense that allowed just 9 runs of more than 10 yards this season.
Rogers led an answering drive and Mississippi State regained the lead, 10-7, late in the 1st quarter on an Aggies’ defense that came into the game yielding just 9.3 points per game. Rogers was 7-for-7 for 58 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Walley, on the Bulldogs’ 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
It was knotted at 10-10 in the first minute of the 2nd quarter when Small capped an 8-play, 44-yard drive with a 40-yard field goal. He added a 37-yarder late in the 2nd quarter to lift Texas A&M to a 13-10 lead. The boot moved Small into 3rd place on the Aggies’ all-time career scoring list with 310 points.
That lead was short-lived because Rogers drove the Bulldogs 75 yards in 5 plays. It took 91 seconds for the Bulldogs to once again hold the advantage. Rogers threw 15 yards to Makai Polk for the go-ahead score and Mississippi State led 17-13 at halftime.