STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Will Rogers threw for 406 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes on Saturday as Mississippi State bounced back from a loss with a 45-14 win over Bowling Green.
“I think it’s a good game for everybody,” Rogers said. “I think we bounced back well from what we did last week. I think it was key that we came out and started fast. I still think there are some things that we can work on so we need to be perfect in everything that we do.”
After having a more balanced attack than normal for most of the first two games, the Air Raid returned for Mike Leach’s team against the Falcons. Rogers was 38-of-49 passing, finding 12 different receivers.
It was the third time this season Rogers completed at least 78% of his passes. The six touchdowns tied his own school record that he set a season ago. He also reached 400 yards for the seventh time in his three seasons.
Caleb Ducking had seven catches for a career-high 96 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (3-1). Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin had five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown and added another 70 yards on two kick returns.
One of the keys to the offense on Saturday was an increase in pace. MSU has been known for winning time of possession more often than not under Leach. On Saturday, Bowling Green won that stat 32:48 to 27:12, but MSU had five of its six touchdown drives scored at 2:30 or faster.
“I thought it was the best tempo we’ve had this year and maybe since I’ve been here,” Leach said. “We still have a ways to go, but we’re getting better at it.”
Bowling Green was without starting quarterback Matt McDonald, who was out for an unspecified reason. In his place, Camden Orth went 17-of-28 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Falcons (1-3) were outgained 462-246 and had just 45 rushing yards.
“Obviously, not the outcome that we wanted by any means, but they played hard,” acting coach Steve Morrison said. “The way we look at it, we’re moving forward and our season starts with our MAC conference schedule. That’s what we’re gearing 100% towards.”
Nathaniel Watson led the MSU defense with his 10 tackles. The MSU defense surrendered a couple of touchdown drive with one being a 97-yard drive in the first half and then a 3rd quarter touchdown against the second team.
It was otherwise a solid day at the office for the unit which forced eight punts and had a turnover with Shawn Preston Jr.’s interception just before the half.
Bowling Green was without coach Scot Loeffler because of “a personal health matter,” the school said Friday. The school gave no details about Loeffler’s condition, but did say he was expected to return to the sideline for the Falcons’ next game against Akron on Oct. 1.
Mississippi State struggled on the offensive side of the ball against LSU and let a potential big road win slip away in Baton Rouge, La. Saturday was a chance to get back in a groove with a key stretch on the way that includes back-to-back SEC West teams at home in Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Mississippi State hosts Texas A&M on October 1 while Bowling Green travels to Akron.
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