Lovertich, Mississippi State take advantage of chance against Vanderbilt

·3 min read

Oct. 24—NASHVILLE — Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers returned to his reliable target in receiver Makai Polk to get the offense back on track after not scoring a touchdown against Alabama last weekend.

Polk had two touchdowns to go along with five catches and 63 yards on eight targets.

But where MSU elevated its play on offense was sparked by the play of non-household names.

Christian Ford had five catches for 63 yards. Rara Thomas had five catches for 52 yards.

Caleb Ducking had four catches and 42 yards. Rufus Harvey added two catches for 17 yards.

"They performed really well," Polk said of the role guys. "We prepared a lot throughout the week, so that's nothing surprising at all. I'm really happy for them."

Lovertich gets his chance

Backup quarterback Chance Lovertich stepped in for Rogers on MSU's final drive.

He went 5-of-6 with 77 passing yards and capped it off with a touchdown pass to Thomas.

»STRONG FINISH: In a way it hasn't this season, Mississippi State shows killer mentality against Vanderbilt

Lovertich transferred from South Alabama to MSU. He's a native of Brandon, Mississippi, and played high school ball at Jackson Prep.

"Chance looked good out there too, and the young O-linemen," Leach said postgame. "It was a full second group, so I was happy... It was good to get those guys some work."

Lovertich played in six games last season for South Alabama and completed 47-of-86 pass attempts for 619 yards.

He played junior college ball at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before going to South Alabama.

Key Drive

Mississippi State opened the game by going 79 yards on eight plays in 3:37 to take a 7-0 lead.

The drive was highlighted by running back Jo'quavious Marks converting a third down on the ground before a 21-yard completion to Marks and a 19-yard catch by Jaden Walley set MSU up in a goal-to-go situation.

On first-and-goal, Rogers completed a nine-yard pass to Polk for his first of two touchdowns.

Key Number — 369

Mississippi State outgained Vanderbilt by 369 yards.

After building an early lead, MSU eliminated Vanderbilt's running game by allowing just nine rushing yards — granted Vanderbilt was only ahead of MSU for rushing yards in the SEC.

All seven of MSU's scoring drives were of 50-plus yards and five of those featured 10-plus plays.

Next Game

Mississippi State heads back to Starkville for homecoming at 6 p.m. next weekend to face No. 15 Kentucky.

Quotable

Christian Ford: "We felt kinda embarrassed by the Alabama blowout because we knew we could beat them. Practice was all focus. Every rep, we played like it was our last rep. We just kept going. Day by day, each practice was better than the last one. We practiced fast, practiced physical and made every rep count."

Bulldog Bites

Mississippi State's 463 passing yards are fourth in program history. MSU had the ball for 39:02 which is the highest time of possession it has had under Mike Leach.

The MSU offense was 6-for-6 in the red zone with five touchdowns and one field goal.

Vanderbilt ran just 42 plays against MSU, which marks the third time since 2000 an FBS team has held an opponent to fewer than 45 plays.

Vandy's five first downs are the fewest allowed by a Leach-coached team.

Linebackers John Lewis and Ty Cooper and safeties Corey Ellington and Janari Dean recorded their first career sacks for MSU.

Lideatrick Griffin's two returns for 76 yards marked his first returns since Week 3 at Memphis.

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