Every Dawg has its day: Rogers and company break records against Tennessee State

Will Rogers attempts a pass in action against Tennessee State.

Mississippi State University got a big 55-10 victory over the Tennessee State Tigers on Saturday and had a few record-breaking performances as a bonus.

True sophomore quarterback Will Rogers was 28-of-34 passing for 391 yards with five touchdowns in MSU's big win. He also broke MSU legend Dak Prescott's single-season record for both passing yards and total passing touchdowns. Wide receiver Austin Williams had three touchdowns and 75 yards on four receptions, while Malik Heath totaled 87 yards for one touchdown on only two receptions. Makai Polk led the wide receivers in total yardage with 110 yards on nine receptions, and he added a touchdown. Polk's 88th reception of the season tied a MSU single-season record as well.

The Bulldogs started hot and never let up. After the MSU defense forced a three-and-out on Tennessee State's opening drive Rogers found Williams for a 21-yard touchdown with 11:28 left in the first quarter. Just like that, Rogers broke his first record of the day for most passing touchdowns in a single season in MSU history. Yet again, the Tigers went three-and-out and couldn't even gain positive yardage against a Bulldogs defense that was ready to attack. Jaden Walley returned the Tigers' punt 29 yards to the TSU 31-yard line, and Jo'quavious Marks ran seven yards a few plays later to give the Bulldogs a two-score advantage. On that drive, Rogers used an eight-yard pass to Jamire Calvin to officially break Prescott's single-season passing record. After the third three-and-out in as many drives for the Tigers, Rogers and his offense looked to all but end the game early. Williams had his second touchdown reception of the day on a quick, five-yard pass near the end of the quarter.

The second quarter was a bit shakier than the first, but the Bulldogs still dominated. Polk fumbled the ball on the first play of the quarter for the MSU offense to give the Tigers a bit of momentum, but the defense forced them to punt away yet again. This time, Rogers found Heath for a 56-yard touchdown that sent fans in the stadium into a frenzy. With 7:52 left until the half, the Bulldogs had an easy 28-0 advantage and were having plenty of fun. Towards the end of the frame, Williams had his third and final touchdown catch of the day. Williams's 30-yard touchdown reception — his longest of the season — came with less than two minutes before halftime. Nolan McCord came on to complete his fifth extra point of the day, and the Bulldogs happily went into the locker room with a comfortable 35-0 advantage.

Rogers added his last touchdown of the day with 9:10 left in the third quarter. This time, he found Polk for a long, 50-yard score. Much to the dismay of concerned fans, Rogers stayed in the game for one more drive but did not account for the final touchdown of the day. This time, running back Dillon Johnson ran 32 yards for the score, and the Bulldogs found themselves with a solid 49-0 lead. It was time for the second-string guys to get playing time.

Tennessee State threatened for the first time in the game early in the fourth quarter. However, linebacker Jett Johnson would have none of that. He recovered a Tigers fumble at the MSU seven-yard line and returned it 12 yards. Speaking to the media after the game, Jett Johnson laughed as he talked about taking off with the football.

"I think it was going around on somebody's back," Johnson said. "I was like 'Oh, there's the ball, I've got to get it.' I took off, all my buddies were messing with me about how I should've scored."

Backup quarterback Chance Lovertich had the opportunity to play the entire fourth quarter. He finished 8-of-12 passing for 102 yards and was able to develop his game. The only two scores the Bulldogs added in the final frame were off of two field goals by McCord— one was a 33-yarder and the other was from 43 yards out. Although the Tigers were able to add 10 points in the final quarter of action, the Bulldogs went into their locker room spirited and beyond ready for Thursday's Egg Bowl.

After the game, head coach Mike Leach discussed what the term "Rivalry Week" and the upcoming Egg Bowl means to him.

"If you're fully invested and you're doing the very best you can, it means another opportunity to play a great, exciting game. You know, where you continue to do your best and try to improve," Leach said.

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