Oct. 3, 2009
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)–Josh Nesbitt threw for a career-high 266 yards and No. 25 Georgia Tech converted three Mississippi State turnovers into touchdowns for a 42-31 win Saturday night.
Nesbitt, who rushed 32 times the week before, took to the air against the Bulldogs (2-3), connecting with Demaryius Thomas eight times for 174 yards and a 23-yard touchdown in an exciting game that featured a little bit of everything.
The Yellow Jackets (4-1) and Bulldogs (2-3) both scored on reverses and converted a combined six fourth downs, including a fake field goal by Mississippi State. The Bulldogs’ Leon Berry had an 89-yard kickoff return a score and Tech’s Jerrard Tarrant returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown.
Anthony Dixon rushed for 106 yards, but gave up the fumble to Tarrant and another at the goal line after going 329 carries since 2007 without losing the ball.
Quarterbacks Tyson Lee and Chris Relf also each fumbled once and Lee added a late interception. It was the first time since 2001 that Mississippi State gave away four fumbles in a game. Mississippi State turned the ball over four times against LSU last week in a game the Bulldogs still nearly won.
Lee’s fumble on the Bulldogs’ opening drive set up Stephen Hill’s 24-yard score on a reverse. And another Lee fumble that Mississippi State recovered killed the Bulldogs’ second drive, and Jonathan Dwyer answered with a 2-yard scoring run to make it 14-0.
Berry’s kickoff return, the first for Mississippi State since 2003, put the Bulldogs back in the game, but Relf’s fumble on the Bulldogs’ next series led to Roddy Jones’ 5-yard scoring run.
Mississippi State had another chance to turn things around late in the second half when Jamar Chaney forced Dwyer to fumble at the goal line. But Dixon couldn’t hold on to the ball when hit deep in the backfield and Tarrant scooped and scored to help Georgia Tech lead 28-17 at halftime.
Nesbitt put the game away on the first drive of the second half, hitting all four passes for 80 yards, including a 23-yard strike to Thomas for a 35-17 lead. He completed passes of 65 and 53 yards as well and was 11 for 14, beating up on the Bulldogs secondary each time he found a defensive back in man coverage on one of his tall, athletic receivers.
Nesbitt also had 53 yards rushing on 23 carries a week after carrying the ball for 92 yards and two touchdowns in a win over North Carolina that pushed the Yellow Jackets back into the Top 25. Dwyer, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s No. 2 rusher, had 83 yards.
Lee’s late 69-yard pass to Chad Bumphis, who also scored on a 10-yard run and had 123 receiving yards, kept the game interesting into the fourth quarter but Mississippi State wasn’t able to rally after Anthony Allen iced it with 5-yard touchdown run.