Mississippi State looked liked it was going to answer with its own score on its first possession, but after driving all the way down to the Houston 38-yard line, lost three yards on a fourth and one to give the ball back to Houston at the MSU 41-yard line.
Houston took advantage of the good field position and once again drove the ball into the endzone, this time on a 9-play, 59-yard drive.
Houston's defense, seemingly drawing energy from the play of their offense, held MSU to three and out on their next possession. Houston took MSU's punt and returned it to the MSU 47-yard line.
Houston needed just four plays to put the ball back into the endzone for the third straight time in the first quarter, going up 21-0.
MSU's defense finally appeared to settle down on its next possession with senior defensive end Tommy Kelly causing a fumble which was recovered by junior defensive tackle Ronald Fields on the MSU 44-yard line.
MSU's offense looked like they were going to take advantage of the turnover but a Nick Turner fumble, MSU's first of six turnovers on the night, gave the ball back to Houston on the Houston 35-yard line.
Houston, after making a first down and driving to their side of the field, turned the ball over to MSU on a fumble that MSU senior cornerback Odell Bradley scooped up and ran back to the Houston 43-yard line.
Despite the good field position, MSU could do nothing with it. On the first play, quarterback Kevin Fant was sacked for a 7-yard loss. After a 10-yard pickup by running back Jerious Norwood, Fant threw an incomplete pass on third down, causing MSU to punt.
After the 39-yard punt, Houston started their next offensive possession on their own 1-yard line. Houston's Kolb, showing maturity beyond his years all night long, quickly passed 12 yards to get out of the hole. Although they picked up two additional first downs on the drive, Houston was unsuccessful on a third down play and had to punt the ball back to MSU.
MSU started their drive on their own 27-yard line. Fant completed three straight passes to move the ball down to the Houston 48-yard line. Norwood, on a 14-yard run, took the ball down to the Houston 34-yard line. After a five-yard penalty on MSU and a 1-yard run by Norwood, Fant found senior Justin Jenkins for 33 yards down to the Houston 5-yard line. Then, Fant, on the next play, threw the ball into the endzone only to see it intercepted, the first of four interceptions Fant would throw on the night.
Once again the MSU defense shut the Houston offense down and made them punt the ball back to MSU.
On a crucial three and five, Fant threw another interception which gave Houston the ball at the MSU 49-yard line. Kolb quickly put the ball into the endzone on a 49-yard bomb to Leonard Gibson, putting Houston up 28-0.
MSU would finally dent the scoreboard on their next possession. Starting out at their own 40-yard line, MSU drove down to the Houston 23-yard line where Fant hit Jenkins for a 23-yard touchdown strike, putting MSU on the board and making the score 28-6 after a failed two-point conversion.
Starting the second half, MSU quickly jumped on Houston by scoring on their first drive of the half to make the score 28-14. The key play in the drive was a 62-yard pass reception and run by junior wide receiver McKinley Scott.
Houston came right back and responded with their own scoring drive. After returning the kickoff to the MSU 48-yard line, Houston took 4 plays to put the ball into the endzone, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass to go up 35-14.
Later in the third quarter MSU, starting out at the Houston 43-yard line, drove down to the Houston 29-yard line before Fant connected with Jenkins for a 29-yard touchdown pass to make the score 35-21.
The MSU defense responded to the touchdown by shutting the Houston offense completely down on its next possession.
MSU, after returning the Houston punt to the 50-yard line, moved the ball down to the Houston 30-yard line only to see Fant throw a pass that was intercepted at the Houston 18-yard line.
Houston responded with a 10-play, 82-yard touchdown drive to go up 42-21.
MSU killed any chances it had of coming back by throwing interceptions in its next two offensive drives.
MSU made the score respectable by adding two late scores with an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior Antonio Hargro and and a 3-yard touchdown run by Nick Turner to make the final score 42-35.
On the night, Houston piled up 519 yards on 78 offensive plays, while MSU, on 74 plays, had 472 total yards. Houston ran the ball 49 times for 198 yards and completed 20 of 29 passes for 321 yards and 4 touchdowns, all by Kevin Kolb. MSU ran the ball 32 times for 112 yards, while MSU's Fant completed 24 of 42 passes for 360 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also threw 5 interceptions.
Individually, the highlights for MSU were Justin Jenkins' 9 receptions for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns and McKinley Scott's 6 receptions for 115 yards. Running back Nick Turner also had a good night with 73 yards on 17 carries and returning 6 punts for 85 yards for a total of 158 total yards. Defensively, senior linebacker T. J. Mawhinney led the Bulldogs in tackles with 11, followed by sophomore Clarence McDougal with 10. Ronald Fields and Tommy Kelly had 1 sack each, MSU's only sacks of the game.
MSU killed any chance it had of winning the game by committing 6 turnovers to Houston's 3.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.