ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It wasn’t easy, but Mississippi State can enjoy a St. Petersburg Bowl victory.
The Bulldogs overcame a 16-7 second-half deficit to beat Miami (Ohio) 17-16 on Monday at Tropicana Field and finish 6-7 for the season. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald closed with 126 yards passing and 142 yards rushing to lift the Bulldogs to the comeback win.
Here are highlights of what Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said after the game.
— Mullen called the bowl game an “unbelievable experience.” He had never been here before, but he called the hospitality “fantastic.”
— Mullen said it was “a great game. … It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up.” He credited Miami (Ohio) for controlling the tempo.
— Mullen said Mississippi State had some missed passes and missed opportunities. “It has been an interesting year,” Mullen said. “We’ve battled throughout the year.”
— Mullen said he told his team, “We’re here because we didn’t give up.”
— On Mississippi State’s late fourth-down play, Mullen said the Bulldogs had the look they wanted, but they just didn’t execute. They considered a field goal, but Mullen said he felt comfortable with the fourth-down play. “I guess I don’t look as dumb as I could have looked,” he said.
— Mullen said the victory “leaves a good taste in your mouth.” He said the Bulldogs can build off this victory.
— Mullen said he was confident that the Bulldogs were going to block the field-goal attempt at the end of the game. “We were due,” he said.
— Mullen praised Mississippi State’s resilience. “They never gave in,” he said.
— Mullen joked that he has gained gray hair this season with all the close outcomes. “You continue to grind, you continue to work, you’re going to have success in life,” Mullen said. He said life lessons can be gained from this season.
— Mullen said we’ll learn a lot about Fitzgerald in the coming months. He said the offseason will be huge for the quarterback’s development.