STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)Max Johnson passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns to lead LSU to a 28-25 victory over late-rallying Mississippi State on Saturday.
LSU (3-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) had only 343 yards offense and was 5 of 32 on third down but reeled off several big plays when needed.
Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1) dominated the stat sheet with 486 yards offense and 12 third-down conversions, but turned the ball over twice inside the LSU 30-yard line and regularly squandered momentum-building drives.
Neither team established dominance early, and LSU led 7-3 at the half. But on the second play of the third quarter, the Bulldogs bit on a play-action fake and Johnson found Kayshon Boutte over the top for a 64-yard score, his second of the day. Later in the quarter, the Tigers confused the MSU defense again on a similar play and Trey Palmer pitter-pattered into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown, no defender within 20 yards.
As has become their custom, the Bulldogs made a hard push in the fourth quarter. Will Rogers found Makai Polk and Austin for late touchdowns, then with just under two minutes remaining hit Jo’Quavious Marks for a 16-yard score and Malik Heath for the two-point conversion to close the gap to 38-35. But the ensuing onside kick didn’t go 10 yards and the Tigers were able to run out the clock. It was the second straight week MSU misfielded an onside kick late in the game.
Johnson was 17-of-27 passing with one interception and Boutte caught four balls for 85 yards.
Rogers was 47-of-62 passing for 371 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Marks rushed for 46 yards and had nine catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
LSU: The Tigers didn’t look great early, but showed patience in the pocket and executed the big plays when they needed them. This was a crucial win for Ed Orgeron’s team if they hope to remain relevant in November.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have now lost two straight winnable games and the schedule only gets tougher from here.
LSU: The Tigers return home to host No. 23 Auburn next weekend in another SEC Western Division brawl.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs face seventh-ranked Texas A&M in College Station for their first SEC road trip of the year.
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