Recapping MSU’s 30-24 win over Troy on Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
TROY, Ala. | Mississippi State got some big turnovers and big plays to win its first road game of the season, overcoming a hurry-up Troy offense that put up 572 yards.
The Bulldogs, 3-0 for the first time since 1999, scored 20 points off four turnovers, with cornerback Darius Slay coming up with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He now has four picks on the year, tops on the team. All four turnovers happened in the first half and helped State build a 23-7 lead, but Troy wouldn’t go away.
The Trojans (1-2), who had 322 yards at halftime, kept moving the ball and eliminated the turnovers. They got a 3-yard touchdown run from Shawn Southward and then a 31-yard TD run by Justin Albert with 12:40 left in the game. MSU, plagued by drops in the passing game, finally found an answer and showed some moxie in converting a pair of critical fourth downs on a 74-yard scoring drive.
LaDarius Perkins, who gained a career-high 179 yards on 23 carries, ran 5 yards on a fourth-and-2. Then on a fourth-and-5 from Troy’s 25-yard line, Tyler Russell rolled left and lobbed a pass to Chad Bumphis, who managed to catch the ball and get a foot down in the back of the end zone for a 30-21 lead with 7 minutes left. The play was reviewed, because it appeared Bumphis bobbled the ball.
“I turned to the people next to us and said, ‘Hey, thumbs up or thumbs down?'” offensive coordinator Les Koenning said. “They said, ‘I dunno.’ Nobody really could tell on the deal.”
Troy hit a 40-yard field goal with 4:07 to go, but MSU ran out the clock. Perkins ripped off a 30-yard run on the drive’s first play, and the Bulldogs were able to escape.
“We made a lot of plays in the first half. We were kind of sloppy but made a lot of plays,” head coach Dan Mullen said. “Didn’t play very well in the second half, but when we needed to make plays, we made them.”
MSU had 457 total yards, and Russell was 11 of 26 for 244 yards and three TDs. His numbers would’ve been much better if not for the drops. Robert Johnson, Joe Morrow and Ricco Sanders all dropped passes that would have likely been long touchdowns. Bumphis, who had a career-high 180 yards and three touchdowns, even had a bad drop.
“The wide receivers, we did everything we could to lose it,” Bumphis said. “We’ve just got to keep our heads up, because obviously they’re going to come back to us, and we’re going to have to make plays down the road.”
Troy basically had its way through the air (230 yards) and on the ground (223 yards). Mullen used the word “terrible” several times, and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said the coaches were mostly to blame.
“There were a lot of things wrong, and it always starts with me and the staff,” he said. “The biggest thing we knew we had to do was come out and eliminate the run game. The last two games we have been able to do that. We didn’t tackle very well. We didn’t fit our gaps very well, and it showed.”
More coverage in Sunday’s Journal.
MSU – Devon Bell 37 field goal, 9:57 (5 plays, 31 yards, 1:54)
Troy – Shawn Southward 1 run (Will Scott kick), 6:05 (10 plays, 81 yards, 3:44)
MSU – LaDarius Perkins 30 run (Bell kick), 1:34 (5 plays, 40 yards, 2:23)
MSU – Chad Bumphis 72 pass from Russell (kick failed), 13:03 (2 plays, 72 yards, :23)
MSU – Bumphis 58 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 4:50 (1 play, 58 yards, :08)
Troy – Southward 3 run (Scott kick), 4:17 (13 plays, 80 yards, 4:38)
Troy – Justin Albert 31 run (Scott kick), 12:40 (6 plays, 91 yards, 1:58)
MSU – Bumphis 25 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 7:00 (12 plays, 74 yards, 5:32)
Troy – Scott 40 field goal, 4:07 (8 plays, 50 yards, 2:46)