STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State closed out the 2020 college football regular season with a convincing 51-32 win over the Missouri Tigers Saturday evening at Davis Wade Stadium.
The Bulldogs (3-7) accumulated 446 yards of total offense, including 295 yards passing and 151 yards rushing. The 151 yards on the ground marks the first time the Bulldogs have hit the century mark all season. The Bulldogs’ previous single-game high was 39 yards rushing in the Egg Bowl.
Freshman quarterback Will Rogers completed 21 of his 36 passes for 295 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also carried the ball four times for 13 yards rushing.
Freshman wide receiver Jaden Walley led the team with five receptions for 129 yards receiving and a TD. Senior wide receiver Osirus Mitchell added five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown grab on a 7-yard fade route. Sophomore wide receiver Brad Cumbest, who also plays in the outfield on the MSU baseball team, scored the first touchdown of his career on a 10-yard catch in the corner of the end zone.
The Bulldog ground attack was led by freshman running back Jo’quavious Marks with 12 carries for 70 yards rushing and a TD. Freshman running back Dillion Johnson chipped in with 47 yards rushing on eight carries.
The Mississippi State defense was paced by sophomore linebacker Nathaniel Watson with 13 tackles and a tackle for loss. Watson was thrown into a starting spot after senior linebacker Erroll Thompson was ejected for targeting on the second play of the game. Thompson laid a big hit on Missouri junior tight end Daniel Parker Jr.
Freshman cornerback Emmanuel Forbes finished with seven tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned 29 yards for a score.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff of the game and drove 75 yards on 10 plays, which was capped off with an 18-yard TD scamper by senior running back Larry Rountree III.
On the ensuing drive, Missouri forced a Bulldog punt, but redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cade Musser muffed the return and MSU senior long snapper Paul Blackwell fell on the fumble in the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:52 left in the first quarter.
MSU then took a 14-7 lead when Rogers hit Walley on a 7-yard TD with 3:33 left in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs never trailed from that point forward.
A 40-yard field goal from junior kicker Brandon Ruiz then increased the lead to 17-7 with 12:14 left in the half.
Missouri freshman kicker Harrison Mevis made a 33-yard field goal with 6:47 left in the first half to make it a 17-10 ballgame.
A 7-yard TD connection between Rogers and Mitchell made it 24-10. On that drive, Rogers completed all five of his passes for 69 yards. A 43-yard field goal by Ruiz as the half ended made it 27-10.
The Bulldogs extended the halftime advantage to 34-10 when Marks dove in from a yard out that capped off a successful drive that ate 4:53 of the clock.
The Tigers ended the third-quarter scoring with a 2-yard TD pass from redshirt freshman QB Connor Bazelak to graduate receiver Keke Chism to make it 34-18.
An interception by sophomore safety Collin Duncan at the end of the third quarter set up a 10-yard TD catch by Cumbest to make it 41-18. A 35-yard field goal from Ruiz increased the MSU lead to 44-18 with 11:13 to play.
A 6-yard TD run by Rountree made the score 44-25 with 8:39 left.
The Bulldogs got back on the board when Forbes picked off Bazelak and returned it 29 yards for a score to go up 51-25 with 5:28 left.
Missouri scored one more TD, a 24-yard catch by sophomore tight end Niko Hea, to end the game’s scoring at 51-32.
The Bulldogs now await their 2020 postseason fate. Bowl game matchups will be officially announced Sunday.