And even when it did, things went from good to bad really fast.
Poised to slice into a 57-14 deficit early in the fourth quarter, Louisiana Tech was looking at second-and-goal from the Mississippi State 6-yard line when chaos broke loose:
A high snap sailed over quarterback J'Mar Smith's head and skirted downfield. Smith tried to land on it but couldn't. Mississippi State defensive back Maurice Smitherman tried to land on it but couldn't. His teammate C.J. Morgan tried to scoop it up but couldn't, instead inadvertently kicking the ball downfield all the way to Louisiana Tech's 7, where receiver Cee Jay Powell finally corralled it.
Six yards away from the end zone just seconds earlier, Louisiana Tech instead faced a third-and-goal -- with 93 yards to go for a touchdown. Of course, it didn't get there, punting two plays later in what ultimately was a 57-21 defeat.
"I hate the mistakes that we made,'' Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. "The things we did -- we shoot ourselves in the foot, which makes it very difficult to beat a very talented SEC team like Mississippi State."
Prior to Saturday night's game, the most yards needed to convert a first down since 2004 was 57, when Georgia had third-and-57 against Tennessee in 2011.
And the loss of 87 yards also marked the worst negative play in the FBS since at least 2004.
"It was a strange game at times, wasn't it,'' Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said of a contest that, in addition to an 87-yard fumble, included three blocked extra points and one blocked punt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.