Rogers Throws 4 TDs, Mississippi State Defeats Arizona 39-17
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Will Rogers threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns — two each to Austin Williams and Caleb Ducking — and Mississippi State beat Arizona 39-17 on Saturday night.
It was a strange game for the Bulldogs, who looked like the were going to pull away multiple times before costly turnovers allowed Arizona to stay in the game. Ultimately, the defense was able to limit the damage from those miscues and Mississippi State was able to leave Tucson with a deceptively large advantage on the scoreboard.
Both teams finished with three turnovers.
Rogers finished 39-of-49 passing, completing 15 passes in a row at one point in the second half. Mississippi State finished with 426 total yards, including 106 on the ground.
Mississippi State (2-0) pushed ahead 25-10 early in the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Williams, capping an eight-play, 75-yard drive. It was one of many times that the Bulldogs clearly had the momentum.
But the Wildcats weren't done, taking advantage of a Mississippi State fumble to pull within 25-17 on the ensuing drive after a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jayden de Laura to Jacob Cowing.
Arizona was driving again later in the third quarter, but de Laura had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage by Mississippi State's Tyrus Wheat. Teammate Nathaniel Watson plucked the ball out of the air and ran all the way to the Arizona 11. Four plays later, Rogers hit Williams for the pair's second touchdown of the night and a 32-17 lead.
De Laura — a transfer from Washington State — completed 23 of 45 passes for 220 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
It was the first meeting between the two programs.
Arizona (1-1) won the toss, elected to receive the kickoff, and that offensive confidence was rewarded with a quick touchdown drive. Michael Wiley ran 34 yards down the right sideline to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Mississippi State responded with the next 15 points and didn't trail again. The Bulldogs were helped by an ill-advised heave from de Laura, which turned into an interception and a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Mississippi State took an 18-10 lead into halftime.
Mississippi St: The Bulldogs are a pretty good team when they're not giving the ball to the other team. Coach Mike Leach has his Air Raid offense rolling in his third year in Starkville and the defense made some key plays.
Arizona: The Wildcats are already much better than last year, when they finished with a 1-11 record. The offense and de Laura are still a work in progress, but it's clear Jedd Fisch has the program in a much better spot in his second year.
In a week of Top 25 upheaval, Mississippi State could come close to breaking into the rankings. The Bulldogs received 10 points in last week's poll.
Mississippi St: Travels to face LSU next Saturday.
Arizona: Hosts North Dakota State next Saturday.