St. Pete Bowl Week Mississippi state vs. miami (ohio)

DAY 1 - Dec. 21st

St. Petersburg Bowl week began Wednesday afternoon for Mississippi State football. The Bulldogs took a 1.5-hour flight from Golden Triangle Regional to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International, where they were greeted by sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.

Shortly after its arrival in Clearwater, the team traveled to its home for the week, The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg.

DAY 2 - Dec. 22nd

Thursday marked Mississippi State's return to the practice field to prepare for its Dec. 26 matchup against Miami (Ohio). The team worked out at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater.

"I was really pleased with the enthusiasm and energy we had in practice today...I liked the focus and energy the guys had out here. I think bowl games are one of the great experiences for players." - Dan Mullen, Head Coach

The Bulldogs then split into two groups in the afternoon with a portion of the team visiting patients at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, including head coach Dan Mullen.

The remainder of the squad joined players from Miami (Ohio) at the "Fill The Bowl" challenge. The two teams bagged food for under privileged children in the area this holiday season.

DAY 3 - Dec. 23rd

Mississippi State football continued its preparations for the St. Petersburg Bowl with a two-hour practice on Friday before spending the afternoon and evening at Busch Gardens.

DAY 4 - Dec. 24th

MSU held its final practice of the 2016 season on Christmas Eve at Calvary Christian High School before spending the remainder of the afternoon at Madeira Beach.

DAY 5 - Dec. 25th

The Bulldogs participated in a traditional Christmas morning at their hotel where they exchanged secret Santa gifts and had a team meal before heading to Tropicana Field later that afternoon for a team picture.

GAME DAY - Dec. 26th

Mississippi State aimed for its second straight bowl win as the Bulldogs took on Miami (Ohio) in the St. Petersburg Bowl Monday from Tropicana Field.

MSU's offense began to pick up near the end of the first half, scoring on a two-yard keeper by Fitzgerald with 22 seconds left before the intermission.

Following a 44-yard touchdown run by Fitzgerald and an interception by sophomore cornerback Jamoral Graham in the third quarter, junior place kicker Westin Graves gave MSU its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter, hitting a 36-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs up 17-16.

With some last-second theatrics, State's Nelson Adams blocked Miami's potential game-winning field goal attempt with five seconds left. The blocked field goal was recovered by MSU's Cedric Jiles, securing the 17-16 victory over Miami (Ohio).

Sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was named MVP of the game after totaling 268 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 13-of-26 passes for 126 yards, while he tied Anthony Dixon's program record with his eighth 100-yard rushing game of the year, running for a total of 142 yards and two touchdowns.

The victory capped the 2016 season for Mississippi State as the Bulldogs look ahead to a promising 2017 campaign after a record seventh-straight bowl game under head coach Dan Mullen. MSU improved to 12-8 all-time in bowl games, 5-2 under Mullen.

Photos by Kelly Price and Nick Price. Story by Bill Martin.

Copyright Mississippi State Athletics. Not for commercial use or reproduction.

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