Bulldogs Cruise Past Jackson State 56-9 To Open 2012
On a muggy evening that saw intermittent rain showers prior to kickoff, the Bulldogs scored early and often en route to an overwhelming 56-9 victory against Jackson State in front of 55,082 fans at Scott Field.
It was the second-consecutive year MSU opened the season by scoring 50-plus points, as a year ago it took care of Memphis at the Liberty Bowl, 59-14.
But on this night, it wasn't just the offense, which didn't have to punt until the 1:19 mark of the third quarter, flexing muscles. The defense was just as dominant.
MSU, which improved to 80-31-2 all-time in season openers and 4-0 under coach Dan Mullen, had two interceptions returned for touchdowns while limiting the Tigers to 265 yards. Of that total, 94 came on their final possession of the first half that ended with a 9-yard scoring pass from Dedric McDonald to E.J. Drewery.
Outside of that play, JSU's only other points were the result of a 25-yard field goal.
"At times, I thought the defense played great," said MSU coach Dan Mullen, whose team returns to action here on Sept. 8 against SEC rival Auburn. "There are still some areas we need to improve on, but we were able to shuffle a lot of people in and out."
As for the Bulldogs, who have now won 12-straight non-conference games, they scored on their opening drive when Chad Bumphis hauled in a 9-yard pass from Tyler Russell less than 4 minutes in. From there, the rout ensued.
LaDarius Perkins made sure of that as he accounted for Mississippi State's next two scores on runs of 8 and 1 yards, respectively.
Then it was Russell again, as he found tight end Marcus Green open for a 13-yard scoring strike and a 28-0 advantage.
But the Bulldogs' first-half scoring wouldn't be done until Darius Slay returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown.
In the final half, Dak Prescott got in on the scoring with a 2-yard plunge to extend the lead to 42-6. A minute later, it was again the defense doing its part, as Matthew Wells returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown. He also led the Bulldogs with 5 tackles, including one sack.
The final score of the night was an impressive 19-yard scamper by Derrick Milton, the first of his young career. He also led MSU with 65 rushing yards, while Perkins grounded out 50.
In all, the Bulldogs manufactured 377 total yards of offense..
Russell, the junior signal caller from Meridian, was 15-of-23 passing for 175 yards.
"He played well, but I'd like to see him sharper," Mullen said. "I thought we ran the ball decent tonight."