By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
– Chad Bumphis had a career-high nine catches, Leon Berry snapped a three-game streak of no catches and Tyler Russell got some snaps at quarterback a week after sitting the entire game.
– Alcorn State broke off some big plays, including a 78-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Brandon Bridge, who also found a lot of soft spots in the middle of the pass defense.
MSU drew a season-high nine penalty flags.
Keys to victory in review
– Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Protect the football. MSU committed two turnovers – an interception by Russell and a fumble by tailback LaDarius Perkins. Starting QB Chris Relf also fumbled, but offensive lineman Tobias Smith picked it up and ran for 12 yards.
2. Harass the quarterback. Bridge was sacked four times and hurried three other times. MSU was credited with three pass break-ups.
3. Pound it. The Bulldogs rushed for a season-high 230 yards. Three of their touchdown drives took three plays or less, but there were three other TD drives of eight plays or longer. On an 11-play, 91-yard drive in the second quarter, MSU got just 26 of those yards on the ground, but Vick Ballard capped it with a 17-yard run.
Ballard also had TD runs of 1 and 75 yards.
– Vick Ballard: The junior tailback rushed for 119 yards on eight carries, making him the first Bulldog this season to surpass 100 yards on the ground. Take away his 75-yarder, and Ballard still averaged 6.3 yards on the other seven carries.
– Coach Dan Mullen admitted it was a “sloppy” game at times, and MSU looked like it didn’t quite know how to handle being a favorite – surprising, as they looked crisp in the opener with Memphis. Injuries could be a part of that, but the focus must be sharper this week at Houston.