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Mississippi State seeks bounce-back win over Buccaneers

Nov 5, 2022; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers (2) runs the ball against the Auburn Tigers during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are looking for a bounce-back win when they host East Tennessee State in a nonconference game on Saturday in Starkville Miss.

Leach’s team had a chance to make a statement against the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs on its home turf Saturday night, but Georgia’s all-around dominant play led to the game getting away from the home side in a 45-19 rout.

Mississippi State (6-4, 3-4 SEC) got a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown from Zavion Thomas to pull to within 17-12 at the half, but Georgia ran away in the second half to move to 10-0.

Quarterback Will Rogers, who went 29-of-51 passing for 263 yards and a touchdown, was very complimentary of Georgia.

“They have all five-star players. They’re pretty good on defense and coach Smart does a really good job,” Rogers said. “They had a really good scheme for what we were doing and it’s hard to finish drives on a good team.”

Rogers has gone 329-of-490 (67.1 percent) passing for an SEC-high 3,173 yards. He has tossed 27 touchdown passes and five interceptions.

During his stellar career in Leach’s “Air Raid” offense, Rogers has 9,614 yards of total offense — third-most in school history.

Dak Prescott (2012-15) tops the list with 11,897 yards, which ranks third in SEC history. Nick Fitzgerald’s 9,814 yards from 2015-18 is second.

East Tennessee State (3-7, 1-6 Southern) was No. 11 in the Football Championship Subdivision preseason rankings but has struggled this campaign after a strong 2021. The Buccaneers were 11-2 last year and upset Vanderbilt 23-3 to open the season.

First-year coach George Quarles pointed to that win in Nashville as being the hope for his team.

“They’re coming off a bad game Saturday night, so they’ll be looking to get that taste out of their mouth,” Quarles said of Mississippi State. “This will be a bigger stadium, better atmosphere. Those are fun games. It can certainly happen. You just have to have some things go your way.”

Senior running back Jacob Saylors has rushed for 1,271 yards on 212 carries (6.0 per carry) with 15 touchdowns in his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.

–Field Level Media