Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald was hit a few yards shy of the end zone as one, two and then three Texas A&M defenders tried to pull him to the ground.
But the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder kept stumbling and straining, dragging the Aggies along with him as he finally fell into the end zone for a crucial touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The sophomore quarterback – and these Bulldogs – weren’t going to be denied in a 35-28 upset win over No. 7 Texas A&M on Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi.
“After how hard my team worked for me all day,” Fitzgerald said. “There was no way I wasn’t going to score that for them.”
Fitzgerald’s bruising 4-yard touchdown run was one of the many highlights for Mississippi State’s running game, which finished with a season-high 365 yards. Fitzgerald ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns while Aeris Williams ran for a career-high 140 yards and a touchdown.
It was a stunning win for Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference), which was coming off an uninspiring 56-41 win over lower-level Samford. The Bulldogs had lost their previous three games against FBS competition. It was an equally stunning loss for Texas A&M. The Aggies were ranked No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday, but will now almost certainly tumble out of contention.
“We got whipped,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We couldn’t stop the run and we couldn’t run it. They dictated play today.”
The Bulldogs’ biggest drive was a grinding 14-play, 73-yard push in the fourth quarter that ended with Fitzgerald’s aforementioned 4-yard touchdown for a 35-21 lead. Mississippi State ran 10 straight running plays at one point in the drive.
(1) Alabama 10, (15) LSU 0: Jalen Hurts broke loose for a 21-yard touchdown run to break a scoreless tie early in the fourth quarter, and Alabama’s (9-0, 6-0) defense thoroughly stifled Leonard Fournette and LSU (5-3, 3-2)in a victory over the Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
(3) Clemson 54, Syracuse 0: Deshaun Watson threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third before leaving host Clemson’s (9-0, 6-0) victory over Syracuse (4-5, 2-3), with a bruised shoulder.
(2) Michigan 59, Maryland 3: Wilton Speight finished with a career-high 362 yards after accounting for three touchdowns in the first half, helping Michigan (9-0, 6-0) build a huge lead before coasting to the win over Maryland (5-4, 2-4) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
(5) Louisville 52, Boston College 7: Lamar Jackson ran for three touchdowns and threw for four more in three quarters to lead visiting Louisville (7-1, 5-1) to a victory over Boston College (4-5, 1-5).
(6) Ohio State 62, (9) Nebraska 3: Curtis Samuel had 178 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard touchdown reception on Ohio State’s first play of the second half, and the Buckeyes (8-1, 5-1 ) dominated Nebraska (7-2, 4-2) in Columbus, Ohio.
(8) Wisconsin 21, Northwestern 7: Corey Clement ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, Jazz Peavy scored on a 46-yard run and Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2) beat Northwestern (4-5, 3-3 ) in Evanston, Illinois.
Arkansas 31, (10) Florida 10: Rawleigh Williams rushed for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Arkansas (6-3, 2-3) defeated Florida (6-2, 4-2) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the first time since 1982.
(11) Auburn 23, Vanderbilt 16: An injured Sean White came off the bench to throw a touchdown pass and Josh Holsey intercepted a last-minute throw to lift host Auburn (7-2, 5-1) to a come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4).
TCU 62, (13) Baylor 22: Kyle Hicks ran for a career-high 192 yards with five touchdowns and TCU (5-4, 3-3) beat Baylor (6-2, 3-2) in Waco, Texas.
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