By BRAD LOCKE / NEMS Daily Journal
By Brad Locke
STARKVILLE – Vick Ballard had been turning into Mississippi State’s feature tailback, but LaDarius Perkins can play that role, too.
With Ballard sitting out with a bum ankle, Perkins carried the rushing load for No. 24 MSU in Saturday’s 29-24 win over UAB. The redshirt freshman had career highs with 18 carries for 131 yards, and he scored two touchdowns – one rushing, one receiving.
“My mindset was stay focused and just step up in this game,” Perkins said. “Because I knew I was going to have a big role in this game. We’ve been doing a lot of different things on offense this week, and so I knew I had to step up with Vick being out.”
Ballard hurt his ankle against Florida the previous week. And while he was running north and south pretty well at practice Thursday, coach Dan Mullen decided not to risk anything. Robert Elliott actually started and finished with 12 yards on four carries.
“It was a judgment call before the game,” Mullen said. “Instead of putting him at risk for missing more games as the season went on, we’ll hold him. And hopefully that pays off, because they felt he’ll be 100 percent if we held him this game.”
Big day for Feld
• Senior long snapper Aaron Feld had a big night. Not only did he recover a fumble in the second quarter, his second recovery of the season, but he made a nice move after the game.
With MSU’s giant video board trained on him, Feld proposed to his girlfriend on the field. Blakely Bailey said yes, and the couple shared a kiss.
“That was risky,” said Mullen. “I did it in a private restaurant in case I got a no.”
• Nick Bell, the defensive end who recently had a cancerous mass removed from his head, was back in Davis Wade Stadium. He was on the sidelines in his jersey taking in the game.
Bell, a sophomore who is out for the season, was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, and the recovery has been going well at his home in Birmingham.
• Reserve defensive back Dennis Thames, a sophomore from Louisville, was suspended for the game due to a violation of team rules.
Thames has recorded eight tackles and two pass break-ups in six games. He also plays on special teams.
Also out was backup DB Damein Anderson. The junior was banged up.
“We expect both of them to be back” for the next game, Mullen said.
• After UAB took a 24-23 lead in the fourth quarter, it pooched the kickoff. Emmanuel Gatling caught it and then was hit, resulting in a personal foul. That put State at UAB’s 42-yard line, and it set up Derek DePasquale’s go-ahead 39-yard field goal with 6:53 left.
• Five – Number of times MSU scored in six red zone chances.
• “I think we were flat as a team tonight. We’re going to have the opportunity to definitely address that at practice (today).” – MSU coach Dan Mullen
• The Bulldogs host Kentucky (4-4, 1-4 SEC), which lost to Georgia on Saturday, 44-31.
• For the second consecutive week, Quentin Saulsberry started at center in place of the injured J.C. Brignone (knee). But Brignone returned in the second half after telling Mullen he felt “100 percent.” … LB Chris White again led the team in tackles, with 14. … MSU is 4-0 over non-SEC opponents this season. … DePasquale is the third Bulldog kicker to make five field goals in a game.