FINAL: No. 15 MSU 45, Middle Tennessee State 3

Recapping No. 15 MSU’s 45-3 win over Middle Tennessee State at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday night.

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Mississippi State closed out its non-conference slate with a dominant second half. The Bulldogs (7-0), off to their second-best start in school history, opened up a 10-3 halftime game with three third-quarter touchdowns, getting a lot of help from the defense.

Johnthan Banks recorded his 16th career interception, tying him with Walt Harris for the school mark. That set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Russell to Chris Smith to make it a 24-3 lead for State with 4:37 left in the third quarter. Then linebacker Cam Lawrence forced and recovered a fumble, and Russell hit Robert Johnson from 23 yards for the score.

This was the seventh consecutive game in which MSU scored 25-plus points, the first time it’s ever done that. Five different players scored touchdowns. MSU finished with 446 total yards – 231 rushing, 215 passing. MTSU had 305 total yards.

MTSU (4-3) moved the ball well at times, but it couldn’t finish drives. And once the turnovers happened, that was it. The Blue Raiders were without the services of star tailback Benny Cunningham, who’s out for the year with a knee injury. A committee of backs managed 131 yards, led by freshman Jordan Parker‘s 66 yards on 13 carries.

LaDarius Perkins led MSU on the ground with 125 yards on 20 carries. His 64-yard TD run gave State a 17-3 lead in the third quarter and got the ball rolling after a lackluster first half offensively. Russell was 17 of 21 for 191 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. His top target was Smith, who had a career-high seven catches for 66 yards and two scores.

Up next for MSU is a trip to No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0) next week.

Scoring

FIRST QUARTER

MSU – Chris Smith 4 pass from Tyler Russell (Devon Bell kick), 7:52 (14 plays, 74 yards, 7:08)

MSU – Bell 32 field goal, :17 (11 plays, 43 yards, 5:25)

SECOND QUARTER

MTSU – Carlos Lopez 32 field goal, 5:06 (13 plays, 65 yards, 4:40)

THIRD QUARTER

MSU – LaDarius Perkins 64 run (Bell kick), 7:30 (5 plays, 75 yards, 2:00)

MSU – Smith 11 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 4:37 (3 plays, 25 yards, 1:35)

MSU – Robert Johnson 23 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 2:06 (1 play, 23 yards, :07)

FOURTH QUARTER

MSU – Dak Prescott 5 run (Bell kick), 12:38 (4 plays, 64 yards, 1:43)

MSU – Derrick Milton 6 run (Bell kick), 8:51 (5 plays, 59 yards, 2:22)

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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