MSU too much for Alcorn State

Published 1:12 am Sunday, October 3, 2010

STARKVILLE (AP) — Vick Ballard rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns as Mississippi State beat Alcorn State 49-16 on Saturday.

Mississippi State (3-2) dominated from the start, opening with an eight-play touchdown drive. Despite the early success, Bulldogs’ coach Dan Mullen thought his team was a little flat following last week’s emotional victory over Georgia.

“We have to get a lot cleaner,” Mullen said. “We are heading out on the road next week and we have to get a lot better.”

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The Bulldogs led 35-16 at halftime.

Alcorn State (3-1) scored all 16 of its points in the second quarter. The Braves moved the ball efficiently with 330 total yards and 16 first downs, but were 5-for-15 on third-down conversions and struggled deep in Mississippi State territory.

“I’d be shocked if that team doesn’t win their conference,” Mullen said.

The Bulldogs racked up 566 yards of total offense, plus another 153 yards and a touchdown on three Leon Berry kickoff returns. Chad Bumphis made nine catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

“They told us in practice this week we would have a lot of opportunities to make plays, so we went out there and did just that.”

Still, Mullen thinks his team can do better.

“We only ran 62 plays and that’s not enough,” Mullen said. “We need to pick up the tempo and run more plays. We need to give our playmakers more opportunities than that. Because when we do, some good things happen for us.”

Mississippi State starting quarterback Chris Relf completed 11 of 15 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman backup Tyler Russell was 8-for-14 for 127 yards and an interception.

Alcorn State quarterback Brandon Bridge completed 13 of 24 passes and rushed for 103 yards.

“He was faster that what we thought he was going to be,” linebacker Chris White said. “Being 6-foot-5 and that fast caught us off guard, so I will say he can definitely play.”

Bridge rushed for a 78-yard touchdown and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Singleton to pull the Braves within eight points at 21-13.

But the Bulldogs’ offense and special teams couldn’t be stopped.

Berry’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their 35-16 halftime advantage.

“That kickoff return was huge,” Mullen said. “It got us a little momentum back right before half, and we were close on a couple other ones.”

Mississippi State tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns, one on a 75-yard run by Ballard.

“That run was a big one,” Mullen said. “It kind of put the game away. It was third-and-short, and he broke it and put the ball away. I was just happy to see how fast he was.”