Kristen Kerr | Posted: 14 Oct 2017 | Updated: 7 Aug 2023

BYU drops 35-10 road contest at Mississippi State

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STARKVILLE, Miss. – BYU dropped its road game 35-10 to Mississippi State Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.


"There were some positives, but not enough," head coach Kalani Sitake said. "If it did not feel like our backs are up against a wall before, it does now. We head east next week, and we have to be ready for East Carolina. Hopefully we can get things fixed and perform better by then.”

The Bulldogs overpowered the Cougar offense and outgained them 546 to 176 in total yards. BYU was limited to 46 offensive plays and just over 23 minutes of possession time.

With the loss, the Cougars have dropped six in a row for the first time since 1968.

Aleva Hifo led BYU receivers with career highs in receptions (5) and yards (77), including a career-long reception of 43 yards and his first career touchdown on a 27-yard strike from Tanner Mangum. Mangum finished 16 of 26 for 145 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

Dayan Ghanwoloku intercepted two passes for 105 yards, his first two-interception game of his career. He intercepted one in the end zone early in the second quarter and returned it 67 yards. Late in the third quarter, Ghanwoloku had his second interception at the five-yard line for 38 yards.     

Butch Pau’u and Sione Takitaki both had double-digit tackles with 12 and 10, respectively.

Bulldog quarterback Nick Fitzgerald rushed 15 yards for a touchdown at the conclusion of a 10-play, 89-yard drive with 5:15 left in the first quarter. Jace Christmann connected on the PAT to put Mississippi State up 7-0.

Early in the second quarter, BYU’s Ghanwoloku intercepted Fitzgerald in the end zone and returned it 67 yards. Moments later, the Bulldogs forced a fumble and recovered it on the Mississippi State 26-yard line with 10:08 on the clock. Eight plays and three minutes later, Donald Gray caught a touchdown pass from Fitzgerald to go up 14-0.

Mangum connected with Hifo on a 43-yard pass to set up kicker Rhett Almond’s career-high 38-yard field goal. The seven-play, 54-yard drive put BYU on the board 14-3 with 3:35 left in the half.

Fitzgerald rushed 14 yards for his second touchdown of the game with 22 seconds on the clock, extending the Bulldogs’ lead 21-3 going into halftime.

On the opening drive of the second half, Fitzgerald sent a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Couch to take a 28-3 advantage.

Ghanwoloku recorded his second interception of the game at the five-yard line with less than a minute left in the third quarter. Twenty-one seconds later, Mangum found Hifo in the end zone. Almond converted the PAT to close the gap 28-10.

Just before the end of the third quarter, kicker Andrew Mikkelsen forced a fumble on Mississippi State’s kickoff return and wide receiver Akile Davis recovered the ball inside the 30-yard line. The Bulldogs later intercepted Mangum in the end zone and returned it 30 yards, not allowing BYU to cash in on the turnover.

Mississippi State went 70 yards down the field en route to a five-yard touchdown rush for a final score of 35-10.

The Cougars continue their two-game road stretch at East Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. ET. That game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network with radio broadcasts on KSL (1160 AM/102.7 FM) and BYU Radio (Sirius XM 143).

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