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Second-Half Surge Propels State To 21-3 Win At UAB


Trailing 3-0 at the half to winless UAB after manufacturing just 118 yards of offense, Mississippi State turned to the sophomore signal caller, who came off the bench to throw for three touchdowns en route to a 21-3 win in front of 28,351 fans at historic Legion Field.

The former Meridian standout threw for 166 yards on 11-of-13 passing and at one stretch completed eight in a row.

And it was his arm that proved to be the spark the Bulldogs needed, as 298 of MSU's 416 total yards came in the second half with Russell under center.

How big of a spark?

In the first half, Mississippi State (3-3, 0-3) failed to scored, while collecting just seven first downs and punting five times. In the final two quarters, the offense generated 16 first downs and punted just once. More importantly, the Bulldogs found the end zone three times.

Their first score, resulting in an 18-yard strike from Russell to Marcus Green, came on their second possession for a 7-3 advantage, one that was never relinquished.

Then in the fourth quarter, Russell hooked up with Tupelo native Chad Bumphis from 57 yards out to extend the lead to 14-3.

Russell, though, wouldn't be done.

With 5:03 to play, his final pass of the sun-drenched afternoon resulted in a 20-yard touchdown to Malcolm Johnson, the first of his career.

But on this day, Russell wasn't the only player with impressive numbers.

Senior running back Vick Ballard grounded out 101 rushing yards and averaged 5.3 yards on his 19 carries. He's now eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the third time this season and the seventh time in his career.

In the receiving department, Bumphis led the charge with 66 yards on four receptions, while Arceto Clark covered 33 yards on his four catches.

Defensively, there was plenty of praise to go around.

In holding the Blazers (0-5) to 340 yards, senior linebacker and Tuscaloosa native Brandon Wilson led MSU with 9 tackles, while also forcing and recovering a fumble.

Not to be outdone was junior cornerback Johnthan Banks, who hauled in his 11th-career interception.

Mississippi State, which improved to 16-0 under coach Dan Mullen when leading after three quarters, now turns its attention toward No. 18 South Carolina, which ran past Kentucky on Saturday to improve to 5-1. 



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