Rapid Reaction: Mississippi State forces Texas A&M into mistakes, takes advantage for key SEC win
Opportunistic Mississippi State stifled a rudder-less Texas A&M offense and came up with key turnovers to keep the Aggies at arm’s length in a decisive 42-24 victory on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs (4-1, 1-1) forced turnovers twice in the red zone and returned a blocked field goal attempt and interception for a touchdown for a surprisingly easy victory over the No. 17 Aggies (3-2, 1-1) who were playing without do-it-all WR Ainias Smith in their first true road game of the season.
The Bulldogs broke the game open and took a commanding 21-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter when Emmanuel Forbes broke through and blocked a field goal attempt. Decamerion Richardson scooped it up and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
Texas A&M finally reached the end zone near the end of the 3rd quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Max Johnson to Moose Muhammad III, but Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers drove Mississippi State to paydirt on the ensuing drive, going 75 yards in 12 plays. Dillon Johnson scored on a 4th-and-goal run from the 1-yard line.
Johnson drove the Aggies to the Bulldogs’ 29-yard line but injured his throwing hand and was replaced by Haynes King, who completed 14-play, 82-yard touchdown drive with a 4-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-goal to draw Texas A&M within 28-17.
But it took Rogers just 1 play to make up the difference, lofting a TD pass to Rara Thomas, who caught it in stride and completed a 75-yard touchdown play.
Rogers finished with 329 passing yards and 3 TDs, giving him 19 TD passes this season and 66 for his career.
After a scoreless first quarter, Rogers and Dillon Johnson alternated pass/run plays all the way down the field to get the Bulldogs on the board first. The 11-play, 94-yard drive, which started with an Aggies turnover, was capped with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Caleb Ducking.
The Bulldogs followed with a 9-play, 70-yard drive and Rogers finished it by finding Rufus Harvey for a 4-yard TD pass. Rogers, the SEC’s leading passer, has thrown TD passes in 23 of his past 24 games.
Coming into the game on Saturday it was the Texas A&M defense that bent but rarely broke. In the first half on Saturday, Mississippi State did the bending without breaking, causing turnovers on the Aggies’ 2 deepest penetrations, both in the red zone.
Forbes capped the effort with a pick-6 off King to seal the scoring.
Now the Aggies limp back to College Station before heading to Alabama with questions about the direction of their once-promising season.