BATON ROUGE, La. — The Mississippi State football team started the Mike Leach era with a 44-34 upset win over No. 6 LSU Saturday evening inside Tiger Stadium.
The Bulldogs compiled 632 yards of total offense, including 623 yards through the air. The State defense held the new-look Tiger offense to 345 yards through the air and 80 yards on the ground.
Mississippi State graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello had an incredible showing in his Bulldog debut, completing 36 of 60 passes for a Southeastern Conference record 623 yards and five touchdowns.
Senior wide receiver Osirus Mitchell led the team in receiving, finishing with seven catches for 183 yards and three scores. Senior running back Kylin Hill caught eight balls for 158 yards, including one that went for a 75-yard score. Senior wide receiver JaVonta Payton hauled in six balls for 122 yards receiving. Graduate transfer Tyrell Shavers added 68 yards receiving and a touchdown, while junior Austin Williams made seven catches for 57 yards and a score.
Hill led the ground attack with 34 yards rushing on seven carries.
Defensively, the Bulldogs picked off LSU junior quarterback Myles Brennan two times and sacked him seven times.
Sophomore safety Shawn Preston Jr. led the team with 11 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Aaron Brule and senior linebacker Erroll Thompson each added 10 tackles and a sack.
Sophomore cornerback Esaias Furdge and freshman cornerback Emmanuel Forbes each picked off Brennan once.
On their second offensive possession of the game, the Bulldogs moved 66 yards on 12 plays. The drive was capped off by a 35-yard field goal by junior kicker Brandon Ruiz to give State a 3-0 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter.
MSU held its 3-0 lead through the end of the first quarter, marking the first time in 26 quarters that LSU did not score.
The Tigers got on the board when linebacker Jabril Cox, a graduate transfer from North Dakota State, picked off a Costello pass and took it 14 yards to the end zone to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead with 9:45 left before halftime.
Costello then connected with Shavers on a 31-yard scoring pass to give State a 10-7 lead with 7:45 remaining in the second quarter.
The Tigers then answered with a 2-yard touchdown connection between Brennan and freshman tight end Arik Gilbert at the 5:20 mark of the second quarter. However, the seesaw battle continued and Costello found Mitchell for a 43-yard touchdown to give State a 17-14 advantage at the halftime break.
With 9:33 left in the third quarter, the Tigers capped off a 14-play, 67-yard drive with a 26-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Cade York to tie the game at 17-17. The Bulldogs then responded with a 24-yard field goal of their own from Ruiz to regain a 20-17 lead.
The Tigers then took their final lead of the game with 5:01 left in the third quarter when Brennan hit junior wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. for a 37-yard scoring strike to give the Tigers a 24-20 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Costello connected with Hill for a 75-yard touchdown throw. The Tigers threw an interception with 58 seconds left in the third quarter and Furdge returned the pick 21 yards back to the Bulldogs’ 44-yard line. The Bulldogs capitalized with a 9-yard TD connection between Costello and Williams to give MSU a 34-24 lead.
The lead was then trimmed to three points at 34-31 when Brennan found Marshall for a 37-yard scoring play.
On the next drive, LSU senior safety JaCoby Stevens strip-sacked Costello at the Bulldogs’ 23-yard line. However, LSU managed just one yard in three plays before York was called on for a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 34-34 with 9:37 left.
State regained a 37-34 lead with 7:27 left in the game when Ruiz hit a 43-yard field goal.
The Bulldogs scored one more time when they drove 71 yards in seven plays and Costello capped off the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell to increase the lead to a game-ending 44-34.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday when they host Arkansas inside Davis Wade Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and it will be televised by SEC Network Alternate.