STARKVILLE • For the third time in the last three weeks, Mississippi State’s Air Raid offense was held in check.
No. 11-ranked Texas A&M beat Mississippi State, 28-14, in Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday. The Bulldogs dropped to 1-3 on the season and have scored only three offensive touchdowns in the last three weeks.
Mississippi State will have an open date next week before traveling to Alabama on Oct. 31.
MSU’s offensive line continued to struggle against a three-man rush.
Texas A&M, like Arkansas and Kentucky the last two weeks, dropped eight into coverage and rushed three. The Aggies had more success than the other two though and tallied up six sacks and five quarterback hurries.
That pressure led to a strip fumble on a sack and an interception.
“I thought it was pretty big,” head coach Mike Leach said on the offensive line’s play impacting the outcome of the game. “I didn’t think we played well on the offensive line. In particular the first half. I thought we literally squandered the first half.”
Quarterback KJ Costello started for Mississippi State (1-3) and was not successful. He led the offense for eight drives. Six of the drives ended in punts while the other two ended in a fumble and an interception in the end zone.
Following the second punt on MSU’s third drive, Texas A&M (3-1) opened the scoring by running the ball. The Aggies ran the ball on eight-consecutive plays and capped off the scoring drive with a 4-yard run by running back Isaiah Spiller.
Spiller carried the ball seven times for 54 yards on the drive. The Aggies totaled 186 rushing yards and averaged 5.5 yards per rush.
“Their offensive line does a great job of getting to the second level,” linebacker Aaron Brule said of the Aggies’ run success. “There’s a lot of things we could have done better, probably be more physical or more downfield, but that’s something we can work on for the future.”
Following Spiller’s touchdown run, the Aggies’s special teams got involved. Texas A&M blocked a punt and recovered the ball on the 1-yard line. Spiller then scored on the next play to go up 14-0.
To open up the second half, Mississippi State’s defense put the Bulldogs on the board when Emmanuel Forbes intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 60 yards for the touchdown.
The momentum didn’t last, however, as Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond hit Chase Lane for a 48-yard touchdown pass four plays later.
Costello was stripped on a sack on the next possession, and Mond hit Ainias Smith for a 6-yard touchdown to go up 28-7. That fumble was Costello’s last play.
Freshman Will Rogers came into the game and threw a touchdown pass on his second drive. He hit Malik Heath down the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 28-14.
Rogers finished 15 of 18 passing for 120 yards and one touchdown.
“I think it’s very difficult,” Leach said of Rogers coming into the game. “I’ve had player after player as a true freshman, even late in the season, and they can’t even get a play off. Fumbling snaps and everything. He came out and was productive both weeks he’s entered.”