By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mississippi State knew Kentucky had trouble defending the power run game, so there was a heavy dose of that Saturday.
The No. 20 Bulldogs had 158 rushing yards, most of them by junior LaDarius Perkins. He gained 110 on 25 carries and scored on a 31-yard touchdown.
The Wildcats actually did better than usual against the run; they’d allowed 200 or more yards three times this season.
“The offensive line, they picked it up,” Perkins said. “They did a great job in the second half coming off the ball stronger, and they started wearing the Kentucky defensive line down.”
On his touchdown, Perkins started up the middle but saw a hole to his right and burst through the line and past a handful of defenders. It was his sixth touchdown of the season.
Perkins also made three catches for 53 yards, with a long of 23. He also had a 19-yard catch on a wheel route that quarterback Tyler Russell said has never been there in practice against MSU’s defense.
That play set up a field goal.
Marcus scores big
Fullback Adrian Marcus had his first career reception, and it was a memorable one for the junior walk-on: A 10-yard touchdown to open the game’s scoring.
Russell rolled right on the play then looked back and threw across the field to Marcus, who got a big block from left tackle Blaine Clausell.
Russell said he’d seen other teams run the play against Kentucky with success.
“I thought I was going to get the touchdown to (Chad Bumphis) or whoever else was out there on the smash route, but it didn’t happen, so I got it back as quick as possible and I threw it, and it worked out perfect,” Russell said.
After serving a four-game suspension, sophomore defensive lineman P.J. Jones returned to action Saturday. The Tupelo product had been benched for an unspecified violation of team rules.
He entered on State’s second defensive series and finished the game with no tackles.
MSU led 20-7 at halftime, got a stop to open the third quarter, and covered 40 yards in two plays. Russell hit Bumphis down the right seam for a 27-yard touchdown.
Three – MSU had a season-high three sacks, totaling 24 lost yards for Kentucky.
“One of the big things coming in was we wanted to start fast. … I thought we certainly had that, we had a really solid first half on both sides of the ball.” – MSU head coach Dan Mullen
Benardrick McKinney had a career-high 12 tackles – 10 of them solo – one tackle-for-loss and two pass break-ups. … Right guard Tobias Smith, who had missed the last two games, saw some playing time behind Justin Malone. … Receiver Arceto Clark had his best game of the season, with five catches for 62 yards.