Mississippi State had a record performance from its offense. Unfortunately, Samford’s offense performed at an incredibly high capacity as well. The final score was 56-41, but the game was much closer than it should have been for the majority of the 3 hours and 48 minutes that it went on.
The game became a battle of quarterbacks. Nick Fitzgerald, the victor, totaled 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground while also gaining 417 yards, five touchdowns through the air, and (unfortunately) a couple of interceptions. Fitzgerald had a record performance and looked downright impressive for much of the game, but for every big play he made, Samford’s Devlin Hodges seemed to have an answer.
Hodges completed 42 of his 69 passes for an astonishing 468 yards and 4 touchdowns. Despite the fact that Hodges carved Mississippi State’s defense apart, he had some struggles of his own at time. He was sacked three times and picked off three times as well.
But despite the fact that MSU’s defense created some pressure at moments in this game, it still allowed an FCS team to gain over 100 yards more than their per game average through the air alone. On top of that, Samford running back K’rondis Larry gashed Mississippi State’s defense for 99 yards on nine carries.
Had it not been for a career game from Nick Fitzgerald, the duo of Donald Gray and Fred Ross totaling over 300 receiving yards, and a solid performance from State’s stable of running backs, this game would have been an even larger mess. State totaled 252 yards on the ground with two touchdowns to give the Mississippi State Bulldogs a total of 669 yards offensively yesterday.
While I anticipated that this game would be high scoring, I didn’t imagine that it would be like this. And though I expected MSU to pull away late, the actual separation in the game didn’t develop as early as I had hoped. Samford is a good team in the FCS ranks, but there’s no reason why this game should have become what it did. Mississippi State is looking at four tough opponents up ahead in November and if the defense continues to regress, then it’ll be a very, very long month for the Bulldogs.