STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) – Skylar Thompson threw for 123 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to lead Kansas State 31-24 over Mississippi State on Saturday.
KSU (3-0) led 17-14 at halftime but trailed 24-17 in the fourth quarter. Then a 100-yard Malik Knowles kickoff return tied the game, and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Dalton Schoen gave the Wildcats a 7-point lead with 5:37 remaining.
MSU (2-1) drove 55 yards on their final meaningful possession, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs at the Kansas State 20-yard line, one yard short of the first-down marker.
The Wildcats managed only 269 yards of total offense, 146 of it on the ground. Schoen caught a team-high three balls for 50 yards and James Mitchell rushed for 59 yards on 17 carries.
Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead benched senior transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens in the third quarter after his second interception and turned the Bulldog offense over to freshman Garrett Shrader. Shrader led the Bulldogs on a methodical 12-play, 79-yard drive, running the ball into the endzone himself to give the team its first lead. From there, though, he presided over three-and-outs on three of the next four drives and the Bulldogs never reached the end zone again.
MSU’s Osirus Mitchell led all receivers with 74 yards and Kylin Hill, the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher, had a game-high 111 yards on 24 carries.
In the balmy Mississippi heat, both teams had a sloppy day with three turnovers apiece and a combined 142 yards in penalties.
Kansas State: The Wildcats are not a flashy team, but they have a balanced offensive attack with lots of ways to beat you. This was a big road win for a program that needed it.
Mississippi State: Despite flashes of prowess, the Bulldogs looked sloppy and unprepared at some point in every phase of Saturday’s game. Big questions remain on both sides of the ball.
Kansas State has an open week before traveling to Oklahoma State.
Mississippi State returns to Southeastern Conference play next week, hosting Kentucky.