SENIOR DAY: Williams contributes to MSU's win over Arkansas


Mississippi State's Aeris Williams, right

By: 
DANNY P. SMITH
Staff Writer

Mississippi State’s A-Train pulled away from the Davis Wade Stadium station for the last time with a victory and a 100-yard rushing day.

Aeris Williams, a West Point native, had 104 yards on 15 carries and the Bulldogs defeated the Razorbacks 52-6 on Saturday.

“He ran the ball hard and ran behind his pads,” MSU head coach Joe Moorhead said of Williams. “Aeris is a proven commodity and productive player at this level.”

Williams and 19 other Bulldog seniors were recognized prior to the game.

MSU senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald said it was a pleasure to share the home field with Williams one final time.

“Three or four years ago, we both had our first ever touchdowns in a college game together,” Fitzgerald said. “Since then, we’ve been a solid duo back there in the backfield. To have a day like this with another senior, to go out, have fun playing and put up huge numbers in front of the home crowd for the last time was awesome.”

It was a good start for Williams on the first offensive possession for the Bulldogs with five carries for 41 yards. MSU moved 81 yards on 14 plays and took a 3-0 lead with 8:27 remaining in the first quarter on Jace Christmann’s 19-yard field goal.

The Bulldogs added a pair of touchdowns to their lead in the second quarter.

After Fitzgerald scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 10:28 left before halftime, Nick Gibson capped an eight-play, 72-yard drive with an 8-yard run for points at the 5:20 mark.

Arkansas got a 36-yard field goal by Connor Lipert to close the second quarter and trailed 17-3 at halftime.

Lipert kicked another field goal, a 32-yarder, to open the second half to bring the Razorbacks to within 17-6. That was as close as Arkansas could get.

The Bulldogs struck in the passing game for the rest of their touchdowns.

Fitzgerald hit Justin Johnson for a 34-yard score, found Keith Mixon for a 4-yard completion for points and tossed a 15-yard attempt to Osirus Mitchell to the end zone in the third quarter, then Fitzgerald added another touchdown pass to Austin Williams of 19 yards in the fourth quarter.

MSU completed the blowout victory with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Keytaon Thompson to Austin Williams.

Fitzgerald shined in his final home game at State also by completing 9-of-14 pass attempts for 127 yards and added 85 yards on the ground on 14 carries. He was responsible for five total touchdowns.

Johnson had three catches for 59 yards.

“I thought we executed at a high level in all three phases,” Moorhead said. “You talk about creating explosive plays and converting on third down each week. We were able to do that.”

The Bulldogs out-gained the Razorbacks 287-69 yards on the ground, 188-150 passing yards and 475-219 yards of total offense.

Those numbers sent Arkansas head coach Chad Morris back to Fayetteville disappointed. The Razorbacks are now 2-9 overall and 0-7 in the Southeastern Conference.

“This is completely unacceptable - unacceptable in all areas,” Morris said. “(It’s) unacceptable coaching, unacceptable playing, (and) unacceptable effort. It’s not what we’re about. It’s not what this program is going to be built on. It’s absolutely not accepted.”

MSU, which improved to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in the league, travels to Ole Miss on Thursday for the annual Battle for the Golden Egg.

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