FOXBOROUGH, Ma. — Trailing by a point at halftime, Mississippi State leaned on a strong second-half performance from quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to dispatch a surprisingly pesky UMass team, 47-35, Saturday in Gillette Stadium.
The Bulldogs rallied for 28 points in the third quarter, with Fitzgerald tossing a pair of touchdown passes and defensive back Jamoral Graham supplying a key pick-six to give their team some needed breathing room in a game that was close throughout.
Stay tuned for postgame updates from coach Dan Mullen.
- “We need to will ourselves to win. We had over 300 yards in the first half… It’s all us. It has nothing to do with anything but us playing better.
- On the play of Fitzgerald, who threw for 299 yards, three touchdowns and ran for 110 yards: “I thought he did OK. Managed the game OK. Missed some throws. Made some checks.”
- On cutting the deficit to 14-13 late in the second quarter: “I thought it was big for us, just some momentum going into halftime. But our guys just worry about so many things… We have a lot of guys who are so used to winning.”
- On consistency: “Young guys, they got to learn. You got to keep going. It’s this play. It’s not the play before, it’s not what happens on the next play.”
- How do you communicate consistent play to young guys? “We just stay on message. They’re young. It just takes time to sink in.”
- “I’m thrilled we won… There are things that can happen… You’re a play way from them kicking an extra point to win a game… We learned our lesson there.”
- On Fitzgerald’s sack-fumble: “The fumble wasn’t (on) him.” Referenced a missed blocking assignment.
- On the homecoming for Mullen, a new Hampshire native: “A lot of friends and family came to see me… That means an awful lot. That’s pretty special.”
- On what he wants to see from the defense: “I watch a guy do something one play. Might be the same defensive call against the same offensive call. And I see completely different results.”
- “I’ve never seen our game be that much of a discrepancy” penalty-wise. The Bulldogs committed a season-high nine penalties for 90 yards.