For Mississippi State, the start of the 2019 college football season meant a rematch from the 2018 campaign. Based on last year’s 56-10 thumping of the University of Louisiana, the Bulldogs appeared to be well on their way to winning their third straight season opener.
But they say it is hard to beat the same team twice, and the Ragin’ Cajuns made it a little harder this time around.
Despite, UL making it interesting down the stretch, MSU hangs on for the 38-28 victory.
In a game Mississippi State never really felt in danger of losing, UL certainly kept it closer than last year’s 46 point demolition. The big story was obviously Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens, making not only his first start as a Bulldog, but also his first start in football since November 7, 2014.
Head Coach Joe Moorhead said, “I texted with Tommy last night and I said you’ve been working for this opportunity for your whole life and for the past few years and I said I want you to go out, I want you to play loose. I want you to have fun. And for a guy to come out and make his first start and have that kind of production, I was very excited for him.”
Quarterback Tommy Stevens said, “Definitely a really cool moment. I’ve been able to play a lot at Penn State and didn’t really make the moment too big for me I’d say. It was a really good feeling to just go out and overall have a really good team win.”
“(Was it fun being the first receiver to catch a Tommy Stevens touchdown pass?) Oh yeah, it was exciting. It was very exciting. Oh, well there were a lot of emotions. But Coach Moorhead always preaches adversity, so when things don’t go our way, how are we going to respond to it? And I feel like we responded well,” said wide receiver Osirus Mitchell.
“Defensively, I think we bent. We didn’t really break. And as I told the guys after the game, Jeffery Simmons isn’t coming back. Montez Sweat isn’t coming back. Johnathan Abram is not coming back. We’re not that defense. We need to find our own identity. We need to find a way to make plays. And ultimately at the end of the day, it’s not about one phase or one unit. It’s about us playing together as a team and it’s going to be old school Mississippi State football. We’re going to have to find a way on a weekly basis to fight, scratch and claw like junkyard dogs and find a way to win football games.”
Now, seemingly the nail in the coffin at that point in the game was a fourth quarter touchdown catch from Ocean Springs alum Austin Williams, which turned out to be the pivotal score in a fourth quarter that saw the Ragin’ Cajuns come back to make it a seven-point deficit late in the game.
Now, next up for the Bulldogs is a return trip to Starkville, where they’ll welcome the Southern Miss Golden Eagles for their home opener.