AUBURN | Auburn’s defense knew it had to at least slow down Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald Saturday. Mission accomplished, and then some.
Fitzgerald completed just 13-of-33 passes (39.4 percent) for 157 yards and rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries. He threw two interceptions including one that was returned 37 yards for a touchdown by Javaris Davis.
“I thought our defense did a very good job containing him and keeping him from those big runs. We were physical up front,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
The 13th-ranked Tigers beat the 24th-ranked Bulldogs 49-10 to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. Auburn’s defense held MSU to 7-of-21 on third down conversions and 2-of-6 on fourth downs.
“We answered the bell time and time again,” Malzahn said.
Senior safety Tray Matthews had the other interception along with three tackles.
“I saw the quarterback rolling out so I rolled out with him. Javaris hit it up in there and thank God I was just running to the ball. I had to lay out for it and make sure I stayed in bounds too,” Matthews said. “I was real happy. It’s always good to have that first one under your belt.”
Auburn had 12 pass breakups against MSU after totaling 11 in the first four games. Carlton Davis had four and Jamel Dean three.
“Our secondary was unbelievable today, they were all over them,” Malzahn said. “We were very good at man-coverage and keeping them down.”
The Tigers had two sacks including one by Jeff Holland, who leads the team with three. Holland also helped force seven false starts on MSU’s offense.
“I think we played great. We got a couple of turnovers and we got a touchdown on defense. That’s big. That’s always big,” Holland said.
Auburn returns to action next Saturday against Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium followed by three-straight conference road games.
“We’re not finished. We have a tough stretch,” said linebacker Deshaun Davis, who led the team with 10 tackles. “But to get the ball rolling in the right direction and see the offense putting up points and special teams executing and stopping fake punts and defense playing great, I feel like we’re a force to be reckoned with right now.”