Costello Leads State Past LSU in Opener, 44-34
BATON ROUGE — Though LSU overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, Mississippi State senior quarterback K.J. Costello led the Bulldogs to the game’s final 10 points to earn the victory, 44-34, on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
Trailing 34-24 early in the fourth quarter, LSU’s defense forced turnovers on consecutive possessions – an interception by freshman cornerback Elias Ricks and a strip-sack by senior linebacker JaCoby Stevens – to quickly get back in the game. The Tigers responded with a 33-yard touchdown reception by Terrace Marshall Jr. and a 40-yard Cade York field goal to tie the game at 34-34 with 9:37 to play.
However, the Bulldogs regained the lead on the ensuing drive on a 43-yard Brandon Ruiz field goal with 7:27 to play and added a 24-yard touchdown pass from Costello to Osirus Mitchell with 3:39 left.
Starting his first game for LSU, junior quarterback Myles Brennan finished 27-of-45 passing for 345 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted twice including the game’s final play.
LSU, which had only 3 of its 22 starters from the 2019 national championship team in today’s starting lineup, was outgained 632-425.
Costello finished 36-of-60 passing 623 yards and five touchdowns. State attempted only 16 rushing attempts for nine net yards, including five sacks of Costello for minus-38 yards.
Due to COVID-19 capacity limitations, Tiger Stadium’s capacity was reduced to 25 percent. Attendance was announced as 21,124.
Blow-by-Blow (by Bill Franques)
On its second offensive possession, Mississippi State moved 66 yards in 12 plays, with the march culminating in a 35-yard field goal by Brandon Ruiz. The drive was highlighted by pass completions of 22 and 25 yards from quarterback K.J. Costello to wide receiver Osirus Mitchell.
Mississippi State held its 3-0 lead through the end of the first period, marking the first time in 26 quarters that LSU did not score. The last time LSU did not score in a period was in the third quarter at Alabama last season.
The Bulldogs drove into LSU territory early in the second quarter, but the march was stopped when senior safety JaCoby Stevens, making his 20th consecutive start for the Tigers, recovered an errant snap that bounced off of Costello’s facemask at the LSU 40-yard line.
LSU scored its first points of the season when linebacker Jabril Cox, a graduate transfer from North Dakota State, picked off a Costello pass and sprinted 14 yards to the end zone. Cade York’s PAT gave the Tigers a 7-3 lead with 9:45 left before halftime.
Cox’s pick-six was the first by an LSU player since the 2018 season opener, when linebacker Jacob Phillips returned an interception 45 yards for a TD versus Miami (Fla.).
The Bulldogs regained the lead with 7:45 remaining in the second period when Costello connected with wide receiver Tyrell Shavers on a 31-yard scoring pass, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive for MSU.
LSU rebounded quickly, as quarterback Myles Brennan lofted a 2-yard TD pass to freshman tight end Arik Gilbert at the 5:20 mark of the second quarter. The drive, highlighted by a 47-yard connection from Brennan to wide receiver Jaray Jenkins, covered 84 yards in eight plays.
The see-saw battle continued, as Costello hit Mitchell with a 43-yard scoring aerial to give Mississippi State a 17-14 advantage 2:27 before halftime. The touchdown finished a seven-play, 75-yard possession for the Bulldogs.
LSU’s 17-14 deficit at halftime marked the first time the Tigers trailed after the first two periods since November 24, 2018, at Texas A&M.
The Tigers tied the game at the 9:33 mark of the third period on their first offensive possession of the second half. York’s 26-yard field goal capped a 14-play, 67-yard march that featured a 20-yard Brennan-to-Jenkins pass to the Bulldogs’ 17-yard line.
Mississippi State responded by moving 69 yards in nine plays, with the drive culminating in a Ruiz 24-yard field goal. Costello’s 34-yard pass to wide receiver Javonta Payton gave the Bulldogs and first-and-goal at the LSU 5 before the Tigers’ defense stiffened.
Brennan led a brisk five-play, 75-yard drive, connecting with wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. on a 37-yard scoring strike to give the Tigers a 24-20 lead with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter.
However, Mississippi State needed just one play on its next possession to surge ahead again, as Costello hit running back Kylin Hill with a 75-yard touchdown throw to mark the seventh lead change of the contest.
LSU turned the ball over for the first time in the game at the :58 mark of the third quarter, when Brennan was intercepted by cornerback Esaias Furdge, who returned the football 21 yards to the Bulldogs’ 44-yard line.
Mississippi State capitalized on the opportunity when Costello found wide receiver Austin Williams on a nine-yard TD strike, capping a five-play, 56-yard drive and giving the Bulldogs a 34-24 lead with 14:14 left in the game.
LSU freshman cornerback Eli Ricks energized the Tiger Stadium crowd by intercepting a Costello pass at the Mississippi State 45, and the Tigers quickly cashed in on the turnover when Brennan fired a 37-yard scoring strike to Marshall Jr. The play narrowed the MSU lead to 34-31 with 11:01 remaining in the contest.
On Mississippi State’s next play from scrimmage, Stevens stripped the ball from Costello and recovered the fumble at the Bulldogs’ 23. LSU managed just one yard in three plays, and York nailed a 40-yard field goal to tie the game 34-34 with 9:37 left.
The Bulldogs grabbed the lead with 7:27 left when Ruiz hit a 43-yard field goal, completing a seven-play, 50-yard advance that featured a 37-yard pass from Costello to Shavers to the LSU 20.
Mississippi State scored again on its next possession, driving 71 yards in seven plays as Costello fired a 24-yard TD pass to Mitchell to increase the advantage to 44-34.