STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State controlled all facets of the game on Saturday afternoon as Charleston Southern fell to the host Bulldogs in Davis Wade Stadium, 49-0.
The Buccaneers (0-1) were limited to just 19 yards and one first down in the opening half as CSU struggled to move the ball against the Bulldogs. Mississippi State (1-0) took advantage of Nick Fitzgerald's strong play (280 total yards) and two defensive safeties in the first 30 minutes in building a 35-0 halftime lead on their way to the win.
The Bulldogs held the 555-33 advantage in yards and 32:25-27:35 in time of possession in taking home their first win of the 2017 season.
Shane Bucenell went 3-for-8 through the air for 15 yards in the Bucs' season opener. Ronnie Harris and Chanin Hamilton combined for 16 carries and 22 yards as CSU struggled to move the ball on the ground against a stout MSU defensive front.
How They Scored
- The Bulldogs took advantage of a 62-yard Nick Fitzgerald pass over the middle to tight end Farrod Green down to the CSU 2-yard line to set up the first score of the contest. Fitzgerald carried the ball into the end zone on the ensuing play for the first score of the game to cap a 4-play, 75-yard drive on the opening possession.
- MSU added to their lead with 3:35 left in the first quarter as Fitzgerald targeted Gabe Myles on a slant pattern in the end zone from eight yards out to cap a 3-play, 43-yard drive.
- The Mississippi State defense put the next points on the board as a fumble on a CSU option pitch was recovered by Chanin Hamilton in the end zone for a safety with 3:20 to play in the first quarter.
- Aeris Williams capped off a 6-play, 40-yard drive with a two-yard score to add to the MSU lead with 1:24 left in the opening quarter.
- Tucker Day connected on a 40-yard field goal to seal a 7-play, 33-yard drive with 7:08 left in the second quarter.
- A Logan Cooke 59-yard punt directly led to MSU's second safety of the game as the Bulldogs downed the attempt inside the CSU 1-yard line. Two plays later Fletcher Adams and Trey Brown tackled the CSU running back in the end zone for the safety.
- MSU added another touchdown on the ensuing drive as Fitzgerald found Deddrick Thomas from 10-yards out to close out a 4-play, 55-yard drive.
- Dontavian Lee capped a 12-play, 78-yard drive on MSU's first possession of the second half with a three-yard rushing touchdown to give the Bulldogs the 42-0 lead with 8:42 left in the third quarter.
- MSU added a late touchdown with 5:58 left in the fourth quarter as Keytaon Thompson connected on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Couch.
Inside the Numbers
- Charleston Southern was unable to crack the 100-yard total offense mark for just the fourth time in program history as the Buccaneers finished with 33 total yards.
- CSU's previous low came on the road against South Florida on November 2, 2002, with the Buccaneers picking 76 total yards on the road against the Bulls.
- Mississippi State held the 29-2 advantage in first downs in the contest.
- MSU's Nick Fitzgerald went 16-of-29 through the air for 239 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 41 yards on seven carries and a score.
- Aeris Williams paced the Bulldogs with 16 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.
- Robert Mitchell was the Bucs' second-leading rusher with three carries for 11 yards, trailing only Ronnie Harris (seven carries, 18 yards).
- Travay Hatten was CSU's leading receiver in the game with one catch for seven yards.
- Kyle Reighard was a valuable weapon for the Bucs as the redshirt sophomore punter averaged 44.8 yards over his 12 attempts on the day with two sailing 50-plus yards, and two downed inside the 20.
News & Notes
- Charleston Southern fell to their sixth SEC opponent in program history as the Bucs dropped the road decision to Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon.
- CSU is 0-19 against FBS competition in program history following the Saturday afternoon loss to the Bulldogs.
- It was the first time CSU opened the season against FBS competition since the 2011 season when the Bucs opened in Orlando against UCF, and just the fourth time CSU opened a season against a FBS opponent.
- Saturday's contest was the first of three road games to open the 2017 season for the Buccaneers. CSU continues their road trip next week at S.C. State (Sept. 9) before closing it out at Elon (Sept. 16).
"They're (Mississippi State) a SEC football team that will compete in the West. The quarterback is an impressive player, an athletic young man and I understand why he's as touted as he is. I'm really proud of the effort our kids had defensively today. We had quite a few young players out there today that had the opportunity to see snaps that will help us out over the long run." - Coach Mark Tucker on MSU Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and the CSU defense.
"We have a long way to go and we're ging to be able to be who we feel like we can be. We need to make strides and make improvements from week one to week two. We have to improve in a lot of places and it starts from the top. I'm proud of the fight in our kids today, and we'll evaluate everything and get ready for next week." - Tucker on what needs to be done to get ready for S.C. State.
Charleston Southern remains on the road as the Buccaneers travel up I-26 to Orangeburg, S.C. for a non-conference matchup at South Carolina State. Kickoff in Oliver C. Dawson Stadium is set for 6 p.m.