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October 3, 2009

Georgia Tech holds off Bulldogs, 42-31

STARKVILLE, Miss., - Mississippi State's offense outgained No. 25 Georgia Tech rolling up 487 yards and never punted on Saturday.

But the Bulldogs were unable to overcome five turnovers that provided Georgia Tech with half their point total en route to a 42-31 victory at Davis Wade Stadium.

"I don't think I have ever been in a game where we don't punt and then we lose the game," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "When you turn the ball over five times you have no chance at winning. Turnovers are something that we preach and obviously I'm doing a real poor job as a head coach in that. We turned the ball over nine times in two weeks. That's coaching and it falls on my shoulders. We will get that fixed."

The Bulldogs fumbled four times including once on the goal line and tossed a late interception providing Georgia Tech with 21 points off turnovers.

The Yellow Jackets (4-1) picked up 479 yards on the evening picking up 266 yards through the air and another 213 on the ground.

"I think we should give them a lot of credit," Mullen said. "We were outcoached today and I am really disappointed with our defensive coaching staff. Obviously if you give up 266 yards passing and another 200 running you didn't do a whole lot defensively. I'm really disappointed with our staff and the situations they put our players in and the lack of adjustments we made."

Josh Nesbitt had a career night completed 11-of-14 passing for 266 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

"I thought (Nesbitt) played a heck of a game," said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. "Josh can throw the ball. I thought offensively thought the skills guys all played well. I'm not sure everything clicked but we had some guys make plays.

One of those playmakers was wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who hauled in eight passes for 174 yards and one touchdown on the evening.

"Josh did a good job throughout the night by putting it in the right spot and letting me make a play on it," Thomas said. "We have been working together a lot after practice lately and it is paying off."

The Yellow Jackets had four different players pickup touchdowns on the ground and were led by Jonathan Dwyer who had 83 yards on 16 carries and scored once.

The first drive of the game certainly did not go as Mississippi State wanted. After a career long rush of 27-yards, Tyson Lee was sacked and the ball was knocked out of his hands and recovered by Anthony Egbuniwe near midfield.

Georgia Tech wasted little time capitalizing on the mistake and scored on a 24-yard reverse pitch touchdown by Stephen Hill. Chris Tanner's extra point was good giving the Yellow Jackets a quick 7-0 lead.

The Bulldogs tried to answer on the following drive marching within field goal range for Sean Brauchle but his 42-yard attempt sailed wide right.

Georgia Tech took over after the miss and orchestrated a 10-play, 73-yard drive that moved the chains four times. Dwyer went over the top from 2-yards out for the score. Tanner again booted the point after for a 14-0 lead with 34-seconds remaining in the first quarter.

But on the ensuing kickoff, Leon Berry broke loose on a 89-yard return for his first career touchdown. Brauchle added the PAT cutting the lead to 14-7.

The Yellow Jackets took advantage of another MSU fumble, this time by Chris Relf, for their third touchdown in four drives. Georgia Tech marched 39-yards and scored on a 5-yard plunge by Roddy Jones. Tanner provided the extra point building the lead to 21-7 with 8:23 to go in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs answered right back with a 68 yard drive of their picking up three first downs along the way. Chad Bumphis scored his first rushing touchdown from 10-yards out. Derek DePasquale came on for the point after bringing State within a score.

Georgia Techs' offense struck with a 65-yard strike from Nesbitt to Thomas. But on the next play Jamar Chaney forced Dwyer to fumble on the goal line. The ball was recovered by Marcus Washington in the end zone for the touchback.

But the Bulldogs fumbled for the third time in the first half when Dixon put the ball on the turf. This time Jerrard Tarrant scooped up the ball and raced 40-yards to pay dirt. Tanner's kick was true expanding the lead back out to 28-14 with 4:28 remaining before the half.

Mississippi State made a dent in the score before heading into the locker room. The Bulldogs drove 47-yards in 13-plays including converting a fake field goal on 4th-and-1 with holder Chris Cameron picking up 10-yards with 10 seconds left.

MSU took one shot at the end zone but Lee's pass intended for Bumphis was incomplete. DePasquale was brought in and drilled a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

The Yellow Jackets came out of the gate in the third quarter putting together a 10-play, 90-yard drive with Nesbitt finding Thomas from 23-yards out. Tanner again drilled the point after taking the score to 35-7.

The score would remain that way until State's first possession of the third quarter. Lee tossed the longest pass of his career for a 69-yard score to Bumphis with 9:49 left in the game.

"I had no idea who it was intended to," Bumphis said. "I looked back and I couldn't see Tyson because he was hiding behind the line. I just saw the ball come out and went after it."

DePasquale provided the PAT pulling the Bulldogs within 35-24.

Georgia Tech answered right back on the next drive. Nesbitt fired a 53-yard pass to Hill, who came down with the jump ball against Zach Smith at the MSU 22-yard line. Three plays later following a pass interference call, Anthony Allen knifed into the end zone from 5-yards out. Tanner again knocked the extra point through for a 42-24 advantage.

Mississippi State came back on the ensuing drive with a 10-play, 67 yard scoring effort. Christian Ducre's 4-yard plunge along with DePasquale's PAT pulled the Bulldogs within 11 points with 3:41 left in the game.

MSU's comeback efforts ended when Lee was picked off by Mario Butler on a tipped pass and the Yellow Jackets ran out the remaining 28 seconds.

The Bulldogs picked up 278 yards through the air on the night and added another 209 on the ground.

"Our kids battled and I'm proud of them for battling and continuing to fight," Mullen said. "They deserve a coaching staff that puts them in position to win and we are going to do that this week."

Dixon had 103 yards in the first half but was limited to only three yards in the final two quarters to finish with 106 yards on 18 attempts. Dixon also put the ball on the ground twice after going 16 games without a fumble dating back to the 2007 Egg Bowl.

"I am very frustrated," Dixon said. "I shouldn't perform like that. The team was depending on me and Coach Mullen was depending on me. I'm definitely one of the leaders so I wanted to make a lot of things happen."

Lee completed 20-of-30 passing for a career-best 278 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Bumphis led the Bulldog receiving corps with six catches for 123 yards and a score and finished with 181 all-purpose yards.

Linebacker Sedric Griffin paced the Georgia Tech defense with 10 solo tackles. Brad Jefferson made eight stops and forced two fumbles while Burnett finished with eight tackles and the fumble return for a touchdown. Egbuniwe forced two fumbles and had a sack.

K.J. Wright led the Bulldogs defensively with 12 tackles. Pernell McPhee added 11 stops, a sack and a forced fumble while Chaney contributed 10 tackles and a forced fumble.

The loss dropped Mississippi State's record to 2-3 overall. The Bulldogs will end their three-game homestand next week hosting Houston.

"We just have to go out there, put it together and come out hungry against Houston," Chaney said. "We want to win every game, not just play close. We go out there to win the game and that's what we're going to do next week. We'll forget about this loss and try to bring back a winning streak."


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