RUSTON, La. -- Nick Fitzgerald threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more to lead Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech 57-21 on Saturday night.
Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons scored two touchdowns, one after blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone, and another after recovering a fumble and running 90 yards for the touchdown. It was the first time a Mississippi State defensive player scored two touchdowns in a game since Johnthan Banks in 2009.
"The defense did my job about half the night for me," Fitzgerald said.
Mississippi State's relatively carefree evening of football didn't start out so well.
Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 9-0 lead, partly thanks to an errant Fitzgerald throw that was intercepted by Amik Robertson and returned to Mississippi State's 2-yard line. Two plays later Kam McKnight ran for a 1-yard touchdown.
That's where the good news ended for Louisiana Tech. Mississippi State (2-0) scored the next 36 points to push ahead 36-14 at halftime. Fitzgerald scored on a 44-yard run just 33 seconds into the second half to push the advantage to 43-14 and erase any doubt about the outcome.
It was a strange game that included three blocked extra points, one blocked punt and a Louisiana Tech fumble that resulted in an 87-yard loss. But in between those bizarre moments, Mississippi State played a lot of good football, especially on defense.
"The defense really buckled down and completely shut them down," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "Then we started rolling on offense and hit some big, explosive plays and played well for the most part."
Fitzgerald threw for 124 yards and ran for 111 yards. Aeris Williams needed just nine carries for 107 yards rushing.
Mississippi State: It was a rough start for the Bulldogs but they recovered in a hurry. The defense and special teams were outstanding while erasing the early 9-0 deficit and then the offense eventually found its footing. A much tougher task awaits next Saturday against LSU.
Louisiana Tech: A great start faded quickly for Louisiana Tech, which couldn't regain the momentum once it was lost on Saturday night. The Bulldogs struggled to throw the ball after some early success and once they became one-dimensional the Mississippi State defense was dominant.
Mississippi State hosts No. 12 LSU in its Southeastern Conference opener next Saturday.