NC State falls flat in road test against Mississippi State 24-10

Sunday, September 12, 2021
NC State quarterback Devin Leary is tackled by Mississippi State linebacker Aaron Brule on Saturday in Starkville, Miss.

STARKVILLE, MISS. -- Lideatrick Griffin returned the opening kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown, and Mississippi State's defense took it from there in a 24-10 win over North Carolina State on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.

The Bulldogs (2-0) held the Wolfpack (1-1) to 4.5 yards per play - with most of the damage coming in garbage time - and never trailed after Griffin's kick return gave them a 7-0 lead 13 seconds into the contest. Quarterback Will Rogers was 33 of 49 passing for 294 yards and two touchdowns for Mississippi State, and Malik Heath and Jaden Walley each caught scoring passes.

Nine days after scoring 45 points in a shutout of South Florida, the Wolfpack were held to a 45-yard Christopher Dunn field goal in the second quarter and Thayer Thomas' late touchdown.

Wolfpack running backs Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person were held to 50 yards on 16 carries, while quarterback Devin Leary went 30-of-49 passing for 303 yards.

NC State scored its only touchdown with 1:06 left in the game on a 4-yard pass from Leary to Thayer Thomas.

Mississippi State went up 14-3 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Heath with 1:09 before halftime. Rogers found Walley for a 4-yard score in the third quarter.

The Wolfpack missed a chance for a tying touchdown in the first quarter when Person's jump pass was intercepted in the end zone by Bulldogs safety Jalen Green.

Mississippi State got little pressure on quarterback Austin Kendall in last week's 35-34 win over Louisiana Tech, forcing just one sack thanks to an intentional grounding penalty. But the Bulldogs' pass rush was far more successful Saturday, sacking Leary five times and forcing hurries and missed throws all night.

Person's interception and a third-quarter fumble by Knight after a good run cost NC State chances to cut into Mississippi State's advantage.

The Wolfpack will look to regroup on Sept. 18 when it hosts Furman at Carter-Finley Stadium.